LONDON: Age and social grade may be less useful segmentations for marketers than attitudes, according to new research which says that commonly held beliefs about demographic groups are often wide of the mark.

Network Research surveyed 1,500 UK consumers to see how they related to popular brands based on rational and emotional attitudes, and discovered that this could uncover actionable insights that would not otherwise have surfaced, Marketing Week reported.

So, for example, the TSB banking brand traditionally attracted older, financially conservative consumers. But following its recent relaunch as a separate entity twenty years after merging with Lloyds Bank, the research found that almost six in ten early adopters were promoters of TSB – opening up new possibilities for marketers in terms of the channels they choose and the products they offer.

The study also reported that having children makes a big difference to brand preferences. Almost two thirds of those with children (64.7%) were likely to recommend the retailer Marks & Spencer, for example, compared to around one third (35.6%) of those without children.

David Pritchard, client development director at Network Research, stressed that the study wasn't advocating an end to the use of traditional demographic segmentation but argued that their audiences exist outside of a brand's traditional target "and there are other attitudes and behaviours that will lead people to engage with your brand and your category".

For example, simply chasing single men aged 18 to 25 because they are a target audience is not a very nuanced approach, he suggested. That strategy "doesn't give a brand granularity and [brands] might be missing out on an enormous part of a prospective audience".

Another unexpected finding emerged with regards to Primark, the budget clothing retailer, which one might reasonably think would be patronised by less well-off consumers. But those in the AB social grade were as likely to recommend it (21.8%) as people in the C1 classification (23.1%) – meaning that these segmentations are likely to be of little real worth to it.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff