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Demographics Check: Is Your Newspaper On Top Of The Trends?

There's a lot of discussion today in commercial circles about demographics. Publishers and retailers are excited to serve the growing a profitable segments falling at different ends of the spectrum; for example, Millennials and Baby Boomers. Each of these groups are economically powerful and represent a significant percentage of the public.

There's also a coming shift in the ethnic makeup of the US, with current minorities projected to make up the majority of the US population by 2015. Understanding the demographic trends and how that influences your business decisions can help newspapers and broadcast media sites increase both revenue and reader loyalty. Here's a closer look at what you need to know.

SEE ALSO: Newspapers' Digital Audience Keeps Growing

Demographics and your content strategy

A publications' content strategy is critical, not only as the main product that it produces but as an important reflection on your newspapers' priorities. Whether you're a larger niche news organization or you cover a local geographic area, understanding who you serve and what they care about should in large part drive when you're covering. Consider, for example, that you're running a financial publication.

The concerns that a Millennial audience is likely to have focus on the job hunt, building wealth, paying off student loans, merging finances with a partner, or buying their first house. Baby Boomers by contrast are thinking about retirement, downsizing, long-term care, luxury purchases, and how to make the most of their estate for the next generation. Specific topics that relate to the concerns faced by individual ethnic groups - for example, profiling Latino-owned businesses - will also become increasingly important. By defining the demographics that you're serving, you're in a much better position to grow your readership through effective content planning.

Technological choices and your audience demographics

Different generations often react to technology in novel ways. Do your customers prefer to use computers or mobile devices? When they're on mobile devices, are they spending time in customized apps or browsing the optimized websites of target publications? How likely is your audience to participate in activities such as paid webinars, market research studies, or reading and contributing to your site's blog? While demographics don't tell the whole story, they can be a helpful predictor not only of what content your readers consume but how they prefer to consume it. By tying your technological choices to your audience demographics, you're dramatically increasing the chances that your technological investments have a high ROI.

How useful are demographics, really?

Understanding the demographics of who is reading your publication and what they're looking for can help you steer the right path. It is, however, important to remember that demographics don't tell the whole story. Just because your readers are Baby Boomers, doesn't mean that they're sitting at home retired with grand kids. You may attract a completely different type of Baby Boomer, such as one that's traveling the world or staying in the workforce as long as possible.

Use demographic information to help you sketch a broader understanding of who you are serving, and then build on that to do more customer research. From this, you'll be able to identify different segments within your audience and make choices that help you serve different parts of your audience.

Being in touch with the trends that affect your readers is critical, and understanding who your audience is, is the best way to do that. Demographics can provide a useful window into who your archetypal reader is, and give you the information you need to begin digging deeper on how to offer real value to them over time.

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