Saturday, October 17, 2009

American consumers are anything but normal.

After a decade of wondering, marketers will finally get a close-up look at today’s consumers when the decennial Census is released next year. Maybe it’s not as great a mystery as the balloon boy, though. Preliminary data has leaked out and the results are… well… predictably abnormal.

Abnormal is bad news for advertisers looking to reach the average consumer. If you are one of these, don’t despair. You are not alone. Many businesses have invested their advertising budgets in reaching that middle-of-the-road consumer, married, two kids, average house, average job, vacations once a year and buys toothpaste on a regular basis. The good news is they still buy toothpaste. The bad news is they are no longer anywhere near the middle of the road.

Ad Age’s sneak peak of the 2010 Census data reveals that the average American has been replaced by a multidimensional individual who is difficult to define under any one category.

What does your average American look like now?

Chances are he is not married with two kids. He’s more likely to have no children or be single. In fact, the census now has 14 choices Americans can select from to define their household including multigenerational and blended families.

He is likely to be a minority. While white, non-Hispanics constitute 80 percent of people 65 and older, this percentage drops to 54 among Americans 18 and younger.

He lives in the South or the West or is thinking of moving there. Over the past decade, 85 percent of the nation’s population growth has occurred in the South and West.

Marketers looking for middle America will have to start looking elsewhere. Your average consumer is nowhere to be found. Perhaps this is a good thing. Who wants to be average anyway?