There are social and economic characteristics that can influence how someone behaves as an individual. Standard demographic variables include a person’s age, gender, family status, education, occupation, income, race and ethnicity. Each of these variables or characteristics can provide clues about how a person might respond to a message.
Advertisers are clearly interested in knowing, for instance, how age influences a person’s need for goods and services. Think about the kinds of items teenagers purchase, the programs they watch on TV and online, and the magazines they read. Advertisers then compare those to the products that their parents purchase, the programs they watch, and the magazines they read.
The influence of an audience member’s age is also a factor in the types of news messages that appeal to one group versus another. Younger people (teens, young adults) generally do not watch the national evening news on television or read a daily newspaper, for example. The news stories on those programs or in the newspaper reflect the knowledge that the audience is more mature, settled, and concerned about different topics and issues than are the younger members of the household. Each of the other demographic variables mentioned can be examined for their influence on messages and how they are tailored to meet specific audience characteristics.