There comes a point in your thirties where you start answering survey questions, and you realize that you are (more or less) telling marketers to ignore your feedback. When you have to pick the “34 – 45” option instead of the “25 – 33” option… your preferences and ideas have just become a whole lot less interesting.
I was having dinner with a friend who helps create computer games the other day. This is a guy who actually has some decision making ability about which video games get made. I was telling him what computer games I loved, and what I desperately wished his company would make. And over the lobster mac and cheese at Lucky’s he looked at me and said, “Yeah, those were great games. But you’re just not our target demographic. To be successful, a game has to be a hit with 15 – 25 year old males. We can’t afford to make games they don’t like.” So not only am I not a video game designer’s target demographic, I never was one. If they made a game (I’m thinking of YOU “Black and White”) that I loved… well it was practically by accident. Later versions of games I loved almost always emphasized my less favorite parts of the game and entirely scrapped the cheerful world building I loved.
That got me thinking about how often I am not the target demographic. The truth is that in most media, I’m not the target demographic. I don’t like violence. Right there, I’ve made myself not the target demographic for 80% of movies. I don’t like meanness. That rules out all the remainder but a handful of Pixar films. Although there are definitely movies I could like, I’m not the target demographic. The movies I would enjoy are rarely being made. And if they are, I’ve already tuned out and don’t watch them.
Or when you’re standing on the street, and a guy drives by who is *so selling his image*. He’s in a low-riding car with a custom exhaust and a sound system that can deafen you at 20 feet. He’s got tinted windows (rolled down) and is slouching in a seat, not wearing a seatbelt and looking at the world with a jaded eye. My thirty-four year old Protestant-white self clucks and tongue and thinks, “Who are you impressing? You’re not impressing me!” Then I remember: I’m not his target demographic.
I’m not the target demographic for most bus ads (I already have a degree, thanks.) I’m not the target demographic of our local Red Sox radio station, which seems to find it impossible to avoid misogyny with even ONE of its talk show hosts. I’m not the target demographic for the salons that dot my town offering increasingly esoteric forms of hair removal and supplementation. I’m not who they’re talking to, or who they’re trying to reach.
It can almost be depressing sometimes. So few things – or people – are really designed to please and entice me. How can you be important if no one is even trying to sell you something?
When I get it that mood (usually after a trip to Gamestop trying to find something I want to play – where I am also NOT THE TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC) I remind myself of the delightful flip side.
They’re not MY target demographic, either.
That guy in the car? He doesn’t impress me, but I don’t feel the need to impress him either. No platform shoes or tight dresses for me, thanks! That judgmental person I run into who has something bad to say about everyone? They’re not my target demographic. Those beauty magazines that tell me that I need an expensive and time consuming regime in order to be acceptable? I’m not their target demographic either. My husband loves me the way I am. I look better than I “have” to in order to be promotable at work. My church family will not look down on me if I wear last season’s styles. My neighbors will invite me over after bedtime to hang out even if I have a mis-allocation of hair, according to the latest trends.
So although it can be sad that so little is made to suit me, I am more than compensated by my liberation from having to impress those elements of society that are most oppressive!
Who is your target demographic? And which group do you wish would pander just a little more to what you want?