Home Marketing Marketing and American Consumer Culture: A Cultural Studies Analysis
Marketers love to create typologies in which divide American society into various demographic target groups, such as Jewish-Americans, Asian- Americans, Black Americans, children, teenagers, senior citizens, and so on. For example, New Strategist books put out an electronic catalogue in 2016 that lists different kinds of consumers their books deal with.
The table of contents of this catalogue is shown below
In their 2006 catalogue, we find a description of a typical book—this one on teens titled Getting Wiser to Teens. Here is some material from the catalogue description of the book:
This expanded update of Peter Zollo’s popular Wise Up to Teens gives readers a thorough understanding of what teens think, feel, and need, what they do, what they buy, and marketers should—and shouldn’t—reach them. Brimming with valuable insights and information, the 11 chapters in Getting Wiser to Teens: Mores Insights into Marketing to Teenagers examines:
Why Teens are Important Consumers; Teen Psyche; Teen Attitudes; Teen Types, Trends, and Music; Teen Social Concerns; Teens at Home and School; Teens and Friends; Teens Lifestyles; Teens and Brands...
Zollo (2006) obtained this information from a TRU study and “countless qualitative research studies.” There are similar books on millenials, baby boomers, and general xers. These books, New Strategist suggests, provide marketers with the kind of detailed information they need to plan advertising campaigns. The fact that many of them have many editions suggests that marketers find them useful.
I will skip some other typologies, such as the VALS (Values and Lifestyles) typology, which argues there are nine different kinds ofAmerican consumers, based on their state of mind or psychological profiles, to examine one of the most interesting typologies, the Claritas/Nielsen typology, which argues there are more than sixty different kinds of Americans.
In recent elaborations, Claritas/Nielsen has broken this list down into categories, based on age and other demographic characteristics, but I think it best to present the list this way to show the different categories of consumers.
I live in Mill Valley, which is in Marin County, one of the most affluent counties in the United States. My zip code is 94941. In this zip code, you find a number of clusters from the top of the list: 01, Upper Crust; 02, Blue Blood Estates; 03, Movers and Shakers; 10, Second City Elites; and 12 Bright Lights/Little City.
Claritas/Nielsen offers the following information about 03: Movers and Shakers for 2013:
U.S. Households: 1,45,997 (1.55%)
Median Household Income: $100, 170
Shop at Nordstroms Play Tennis Read Yoga Journal Watch NHL games Drive a Land Rover
Unban city/Suburban Income: Wealthy Producing Assets: Elite Age: 45-64
We can see that Claritas/Nielsen has a great deal ofinformation on each of its sixty-six kinds of Americans—information that, logic suggests, will be of interest to marketers and advertisers.
Our sociological perspective shows that there are many different ways to categorize consumers, from the Grid-Group theorists’ four lifestyles to Claritas/Nielsen’s sixty-six kinds of Americans. What sociologists provide is information about groups of people who are similar to one another in certain ways—information that helps marketers know more about their target audiences. If you want to sell Land Rovers, advertising that reaches people in Marin County is probably a good idea since it is one of the most affluent counties in America. When I drive around Marin County, I see many Land Rovers, though BMWs (Basic Marin Wheels), Mercedes, and lately Audis, are much more common.
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