Major questions that everyone in the industry asks are how do we reach our target audience, and where does our target audience go for information? As an assignment for my Audience Research class, I looked at blog postings about various audiences to learn how the industry gets information about these groups, what measurements are used, and where these groups would likely go for information about travel.
The first blog was On The Record: They Aren't Just Like Us, by Mike Bloxham, and was about media consumers as a whole. He discussed how many of them may not be as media savvy as people in media industries may expect them to be, and that reaching them and understanding their use of media is largely trial and error. He mentioned one instance where Nielson research found that only 2% of 400 sampled iPod users acutally used the video capabilities available to them, which deeply surprised commentators. As a whole, consumers are difficult to understand or predict. With regards to their habits on finding information on travel, there is no good way to predict this, as it is too segmented a group.
The second blog was Consumer 3.0: Survival of the Fittest, by Peter Lauria. Its focus was on young consumers who have grown up with the latest technology and consume media differently than the generations that came before them. The best way for the industry to learn about these consumers seems to be to look at the media content that they create and control for themselves. Media studies such as The Pew Internet and American Life Project have shown that 55% of 12 to 17-year-olds use social networking sites such as myspace or facebook, and are extremely media savvy. As travelers, this group would most likely look for travel blogs written by their peers or on-line testimonials from people who had been to the places they were interested in visiting, because they are so used to user-generated content.
The third blog was Market Focus: Calling All Pets, by Alex Miller, which focused on pet owners. The main way for the industry to get information on this audience seems to be The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA). The APPMA found that people spent $34.3 billion on their pets in 2004, with one in three American households having at least one pet of some sort. As travelers, one can expect that avid pet owners would take their pets with them wherever they went, and would search trade magazines such as Pet Age or even the Animal Planet website for information on where to go, and how their destinations of choice will treat their pets.
The fourth blog was Market Focus: Targeting Harried Commuters, by Larry Dobrow. It focuses on how advertisers are catching the attention of commuters in buses and trains. The best way for the industry to gather information on what catches the eye of this group seems to be trial and error, as no measurements or research agencies were mentioned in the article. Advertisers are left to try out campaigns and various ways of presenting information and see if it works. As travelers, this group would probably not get all of their information from the billboards, train-placards and bus-wraps that surround them on the way to work, but they may be given ideas for vacations by these means, and be directed to a travel website from there.
The fifth blog was Targeting Young Males, by T. Miller, and focused on how to catch the attention of the extremely segmented and media wary market of young men. Industry professionals rely on focus groups and Nielson research to gather information on what this group wants to see, and where they want to see it. The article cites a Nielson Entertainment study which showed that TV viewership is down among men ages 18 to 34, and that the best way to reach them is through viral ads and grassroots marketing instead of traditional media. As travelers, young men may get information anywhere from the media targeted at them, such as Maxim magazine, to the travel blogs that are likely to attract all young media consumers.
The sixth blog was Buzz Focus: Cracking the Fickle Tween Code, by Tina Wells. Wells looks at ways to reach the pre-teen audience. The best way for the industry to learn about this audience seems to be focus groups and surveys, such as the one mentioned in the article done by Buzz Marketing Group, which showed that 87% of tweens said that ads are one of the top three ways that they want to be introduced to a new product. Tweens are very influenced by both celebrities and their friends, so as travelers, they would likely get information from these same sources. They will want to go places that their friends have gone and enjoyed, and they will want to go places where they know celebrities have been.
The seventh blog was Marketing To Women, Part II: Stats and the Single Woman, by Adrienne W. Fawcett. It gave statistics on single women and showed how marketers have much of their information wrong, which leads to marketing that does not connect with their audience the way they would like it to. Industry professionals learn about this group through surveys which give them all of the basic demographic information, such as age, race, income, and education. However, apparently the industry as a whole has not yet found a way to get information on this market to keep from stereotyping them in their advertising campaigns. Since this group has an enormous range in everything from age to education to occupation, there is no good way to estimate how they would get their information as travelers.
The eighth and final blog was Modern Multitaskers are Really on the Ball When it Comes to the Juggling Act, by Peter Lauria. He talks about how people today often consume multiple forms of media concurrently in order to ingest as much information as possible, as efficiently as possible. Industry information on this group is found through forecasts and studies, such as the one conducted by Ball State University on "Concurrent Media Exposure", which found that through shared or shifting attention, almost one third of the time spent with any one medium is shared with another medium. The article talks about the importance of easy searches. Because this group wants information as efficiently as possible, as travelers, they will want travel sites that have all all the information that they need readily available.
Each group can be reached in different ways, and would be likely to go to different places to get information on travel, and they each must be considered separately in any given advertising campaign.