MINT on why you don’t fit in a box, and your audience doesn’t either.

Self exploration has been a theme so far in 2021, never before have we ventured into so many unknown territories and been so amiable (think cancelled holidays, continuous lockdowns and changed destinations). All in the while, we have been exploring gender construct, the role of the minority in a society and the fact that sometimes we just don’t feel like checking one of the many boxes we’ve been asked to tick.  

As society has started uttering inclusion, diversity and equity, and challenging the very nature of demographics, MINT believes that the same should be true for all marketing behaviours.  

Things like age, gender and marital status no longer seem to be relevant indications of grouping personas, as they often have minimal influence on mindset and therefore brand or product choices. Before creating your ‘bulls-eye target’ consider your ‘grouping index’ and explore options outside of the usual demographics. 

MINT explored this idea by using suburb of residence as a grouping factor. Although one suburb may have a vast range of typical ‘demographics’ within it, there are greater comparisons of mindset and culture of community that can be assessed to showcase effect on brand choice. This is not to say that the people in each suburb are all the same, but tolerance can be associated with experience and driven by the experiences of our neighbours and community. 

Car brand choice is a fantastic example of this, as possibly one of the strongest ‘emotional’ brand choices we make. Cars are seen as a reflection of our personal brand; wherein the choice of which car to buy is weighted more heavily towards image than it is to, say, safety standards or features – though it could in fact be that those elements themselves that resonate with your personal brand.  

A study of 200,000 Americans on long-term personality data defined traits of each customer group, segmented by the car they drive. The results were striking. BMW customers, for example, are likely to consider themselves more knowledgeable than most, yet see themselves as less mechanically intelligent than Ford owners. While those that own a Mercedes-Benz view themselves as highly adventurous leaders, Volkswagen drivers feel they have the most imagination.  

Knowing that mindset and personality inform car brand choice, if we overlay the data of car brands with suburb of residence, we can see how standard demographic data can be deceiving compared to likeminded groupings.  

Referencing the Census data (2016) for 11 suburbs in Sydney, demographics such as median weekly household income and median age are readily available, forming some of the most commonly used data points by marketers to inform their targeting and segmentation strategies.  

In MINT’s research, this demographic data was combined with the top three cars owned within a suburb to showcase the contrast between newer segmentation approaches and traditional demographic generalisations.  

We began with age – a common way for marketers to segment an audience. When looking at the median age per Sydney suburb, Double Bay (39) and Wahroonga (41) had similar figures. While the two suburbs are aligned in this segment, the contrast in car purchase behaviour tells another story. In descending order, Double Bay had listed Mercedes (1), BMW (2) and Toyota (3) as their three most prevalent cars, while Wahroonga listed Toyota (1), Mazda (2) and Volkswagen (3), showing a completely diverse approach to brand purchases.  

Income is another common demographic data point that marketers use to inform targeting. The Census data shows that Surry Hills/Darlinghurst ($2,150) and Palm Beach ($2,111) are only $39 apart in median weekly household income. A marketer trying to target a wealthier demographic may look at this, however the suburb’s car ownership portrays an inverse relationship to the income data, with Surry Hills/Darlinghurst showing a high VW ownership and Palm Beach showcasing a large number of Mercedes Benz.  

Further to this, Bondi ($2,175) and Newtown ($1,863) have substantially differing median weekly household incomes, however their top three cars are completely identical with Toyota, Mazda & VW.  

In turn, we can summarise that looking at suburb of residence is a much better grouping of mindset than the traditional approach of segmenting an audience into: age, gender, net worth. 

At MINT we try to ask better questions to tell a better story. We want to know: what do they wish they were more of? What first impression are they trying to convey? How would they like to be remembered? What are their core values? How do they see their role in the community? 

We then overlay these attitudes with data-driven groupings to inform not only where to find them, but what message will really matter to them. 

Get in touch! 

Authored by Jenny Cheng, Bree Nicholls, Miranda Bryce 




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