The death of demographics - David Mattin, Trendwatching

David Mattin – Head of Trends and Insights at Trendwatching

For decades, advertisers have used demographic segments – age, gender, income bracket, relationship status and more – to better predict how we behave and what we’ll buy. But now, that model is losing its power. Instead, consumers – you, me, all of us – are more free than ever to construct identities and lifestyles of their own choosing. Why is this happening? Online access to a global brain of ideas and information means all connected people are able to immerse themselves in the culture that they choose. Meanwhile, the social norms that once kept behaviour predictable are fading away, and the status indicators that consumers aspire to have radically diversified to include health, connectedness, skills, knowledge and ethics.

Netflix VP of Product Innovation told this year’s SXSW audience that demographics are ‘almost useless’ at predicting what Netflix users will watch. ‘What we’ve learned over time is: it’s not who they are in a superficial sense – like gender, age, even geography. It’s not even what they tell you. It’s what they do. There are actually 19-year-old guys who watch Dance Moms, and there are 73-year-old women who are watching Breaking Bad and Avengers.’ Post-demographic consumerism is a huge social shift, driven by powerful changes in the way we all live and think. We’re going to be figuring out the implications for years to come.

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