Why You Should Ignore Identities Of Your Audiences.
A fundamental principle in marketing is that you have to craft messages that resonate with the identity of the audience(s) you are trying to connect with. Identities are great for marketers since people often live up to the identities they hold for themselves, whether socially or personally. For example, teachers hold the beliefs that they should be responsible, able to educate, are experts in their domain, and concerned with the safety of those in their classrooms. Teachers will then hold attitudes and behave in ways that are typically consistent with their beliefs, which is enough to make noticeable differences in purchasing behaviors compared to other groups. As a result, teachers in America often spend up to $1000 of their own money for their students.
Often as marketers we turn to this natural method of thinking, where we categorize our audiences into mutually exclusive groups such as teachers, athletes, or friends while self-identities are often group agnostic, fluid, and may even be independent of self-views. Ignoring the concept of identities allows marketers to craft more flexible and group agnostic messages. Instead of speaking to a specific group, we can instead speak to the underlying beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of those who care about the products and services you are offering. This allows your message to resonate across identities and potentially across consumer segments.
For example if the product being promoted is a design-forward computer (eg. an iMac), the messaging does not necessarily have to target designers like what they did in the early 2000s. Instead they can focus on promoting product qualities that resonates with a consumer persona who commonly care about these qualities, and the consumer persona may be agnostic of age, gender, education, income, etc. While the messaging may have a higher affinity with specific demographics within the consumer persona, ignoring identities may increase campaign effectiveness and/or cost effectiveness in many circumstances.
Identities are considered as either stable or fluid. Fluid identities may change as you can be a Liberal this year and a Conservative next year, or a journalist, a teacher, etc. Stable identities are fixed such as being a friend, French-Canadian, father, etc. Often multiple identities are called on simultaneously when appraising oneself, as one can be a father, a friend, a teacher, an athlete all at the same time.
-Travis Sun / Business Development Manager at NGEN