How COVID-19 is redefining target audiences

Project Management Director

Shifting Your Targeting Strategy

Any marketing textbook will tell you one of the best ways to define your target audience is through demographic and psychographic breakdowns—generation, gender, income, and spending habits, to name a few.

In the wake of the pandemic and the lasting effects that COVID-19 will have on our economy, there is new research from Gallup that takes a look into consumers’ feelings, finances, and future behaviors related to the pandemic. Marketers may need to take a step back and consider how COVID-19 is redefining target audiences and adapt their marketing strategy accordingly.

This pandemic is unlike anything that we have seen before, there have been periods of financial crisis and economic turmoil in the past, but the novel coronavirus pandemic is a different kind of beast. Because of the unknown territory of a global pandemic, it is almost impossible for marketers to predict the long-term impacts it will have on consumer behavior.

A year or two from now, there will be a much clearer view, but until then marketers are piecing together any relevant data they can get their hands on to make informed decisions.

One adjustment marketers are making is looking beyond the traditional demographic and psychographic splits of their target audience that were used pre-pandemic. It is critical to have a deep understanding of how consumers are acting now and how they will act post-pandemic to ensure your marketing is resonating with your audience the right way.

Is Your Target Audience “Walking Around with Money”?

Gallup coined the phrase “Walking Around with Money” to describe consumers’ social and financial behavior during the pandemic. This framework is used to define COVID-19-era consumer social and financial behavior. “Walking around” refers to a consumer’s willingness to be out in public, “with money” describes the consumer’s ability and tendency to spend.

The pandemic has affected the population in vastly different ways. Many individuals still have jobs and are making a salary but may be engaging in commerce differently than they were pre-COVID. Some are being extremely cautious in spending unnecessarily, while others are spending more through online shopping.

To determine how the population is acting regarding their “Walking Around with Money” framework, Gallup surveyed 80,000+ consumers on their feelings and spending habits during the pandemic. As a result, they segmented customers into six distinct groups. The six groupings range from being ready/cautious to “walk around” and able/not able “with money.” The six segments are as follows:

  1. Middle Ground (24%)

This group has some concerns about the novel coronavirus but are not being overly cautious. They are financially neutral, not in good shape, but also not struggling to make ends meet.

  1. Cautious and Able (24%)

These individuals are concerned about COVID-19 and it is affecting their daily routine. They are not spending as much as they were pre-pandemic but could afford to spend the same way as they were before.

  1. Cautious Possibilities (19%)

This group is also concerned about COVID-19 and it is affecting their behavior. They have less spending freedom than the Cautious and Able group, but they are not financially suffering.

  1. Ready and Able (14%)

These individuals are not concerned over the pandemic and are behaving similarly to how they were pre-COVID. They are financially stable and have money to spend.

  1. Cautious, Not Able (10%)

These people have concerns about the novel coronavirus and are not in a great position financially. They have had to alter their spending habits dramatically as a result of the pandemic.

  1. Ready, Not Able (9%)

This group does not express concerns over COVID-19 but are not in the position financially to spend.

What Does This Mean for Your Target Audience?

The next question marketers need to determine is if these new segments are temporary or will they become the new norm even after the pandemic is behind us? Time will tell. But, in the meantime, marketers should take a step back and look at how they are defining their target audience during this time. Determining how a message can resonate differently with the vast range of attitudes and spending habits of these segments can lead to many benefits for your brand even after the pandemic is over.

Interested in chatting more? Feel free to reach out, we would love to start a conversation about how you can better define your target audiences.

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Project Management Director
Amanda drives both the agency and clients to “work smarter.” Her responsibilities include resource management, work product, and efficiency of the work our staff produces. She guides and manages client work across all channels by creating project management workflows, processes, and standards that foster effective planning, collaboration, and execution. She has an amazing attention to detail and is extremely organized.

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