Attitude is more important than demographics

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Many people equate marketing with advertising and promotion. But marketing’s most important role is in understanding the customer and their needs, desires and motivations and working with others in the company to help create the products and services that they’ll pay for. As Seth Godin says, “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”

And when you are working on understanding your customers it’s important to remember that their attitudes are more important than their demographics.

Just think for a moment about your neighbors and it probably won’t take you long to think of many who are of a similar age, gender, income, and family arrangement, but yet have very different attitudes about what kind of food to eat, car to drive, places to vacation, and clothes to wear.

In the tech marketing classic, Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore describes how different it is to sell to innovators and early adopters of a new technology compared to those in the majority who won’t buy it until later and it’s all because of the difference in attitudes. This is a thumbnail sketch of some of those differences.

Early Adopters Early Majority
Technologically competent Not technologically comfortable
Looking for a change agent Looking for incremental improvements in existing ways of doing business
Will cobble together new technologies if it gives them a significant advantage Want a whole product
Want innovative, state of the art technology Want accepted, industry standard technology
Read futurist, tech blogs and publications and attend tech conferences Read niche industry publications and attend industry conferences
Expect to change jobs and companies often Want to stay with the same company for many years
Will accept other Early Adopters as references Will not accept Early Adopters as references

So appealing to early adopters to get a jump on the competition by being the first in their industry to use a new technology would be very effective, and it would be the exact wrong message for those in the majority – even though demographically they might be very similar.