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Technical writing: definition of demographics

Definition of demographic

Often times, a client will specify a target audience when talking about the customer profile. This is a way of talking about the demographics of people in a consumer group. One of the purposes of a demographic is to find out what specific consumer segments exist in the general population. Another is to have enough information about a typical member of a group to provide a kind of mental picture of an individual within the larger group. This information enables the development of a marketing strategy and a marketing plan.

In ordinary usage, a number of variables are taken into account when we talk about the demographics of a group. Commonly used variables include:

  • race
  • age
  • entry
  • disabilities
  • type and number of designated products in the home
  • Education level
  • home status: own, rental, condo
  • Employment Status
  • geographic location
  • recreational preferences
  • buying clothes

Each of these variables can be given more or less weight depending on the product or service involved. For example, a magazine editor might consider a marketing campaign targeting a demographic that includes single Asian men between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-eight employed in the aerospace industry living in the northwestern United States. This is potentially a large segment of the population.

On the other hand, if a company has a product that is expected to attract only Serbo-Croatian women between the ages of eighty-five and ninety who have a PhD in Antarctic Economics and live with their parents, a demographic study could indicate that the market potential is too small for a major marketing initiative.

Let’s be picky

Each word has a specific meaning and no two words mean exactly the same thing. And we still believe that’s true, except when it’s not.

The word psychographic, technically, it includes all the information in a demographic more much more. A good marketing dictionary will define psychography as a way of dividing consumers into groups based on attitudes, beliefs, values, personality, purchase motives, lifestyle, and a host of other attributes.

Technically, demography is a subset of psychography that measures only age, income, and occupation. However, in practice, you will rarely hear the word psychography in a meeting because most people in marketers don’t know or don’t care that there is a difference. Demographics has become an abbreviation for the industry that encompasses all elements of psychography.


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