Anyone who has worked in research knows about the holy grail of the 18-35 audience. Of the age bands used throughout research, this group includes the tastemakers: the people who will not only consume a brand but who – through their vitality, coolness and effortless joie de vivre – will pull broader audiences in as well.
No matter how much faster the world turns, there is still a strong client temptation to use this narrow age banding as a proxy for progressive audiences. However, is it now time to rethink this approach to lifestages? Hook recently brought its unique 4D Methodology to bear on a project for a major publisher to shed light a Forever 40s audience of women.
Where do you belong?
Increasingly, at Hook Research we’re seeing that the line between adults, teens and children is blurring. Children and parents regularly go to the same festivals, wear similar clothing and watch and listen to the same content.
Even at younger ages, animated content blends adult and kids’ themes. The lives of the main protagonists in Cartoon Network’s We Bare Bears don’t reflect the realities of a 7 year old’s existence but instead focus on more grown-up themes, from internet dating (Panda) and the quest for vlogging fame (Griz) to an almost hipsterish obsession with achieving martial arts perfection and sharing it with the world (Ice Bear).
As age categories blur, the way we think about consumers has to change as well. For Thomas Hobbes, life was ‘nasty, brutish and short’ but this is no longer the case. Hook recently brought its unique 4D Methodology to bear on a project for a major publisher to shed light a Forever 40s audience of women. Here, we explored how women in their 60s lived to the max and looked for brands and activities that reflected this vitality – they were literally living from cradle to rave.
Growing out of lifestages
As life expectancy goes up – a child born in the UK has a 50% chance of living to 105 – it is likely that tight age categories will lose even more meaning and lifestages will become more baggy and inappropriate as a means of categorisation.
This is why Hook is refining the criteria it uses when thinking about lifestages and recruiting research participants. Beyond parenthood, and the changes that children bring to a household, Hook is looking to craft attitudinal statements that ensure a refined recruitment process. This means that our research better reflects the reality of contemporary UK and ensures we speak to people who understand the different ways a product can be used or consumed. In the end, this ultimately leads to more finely honed insights for our clients.