Media Buying & Changing Demographics

Demographic Shift: How changing demographics affect media buying

A couple of years ago, our office had a running discussion on what age/birth year determined if you were a millennial. At the time, being a millennial had a certain connotation, and not necessarily a good one.

Yet, there didn’t seem to be sources of authority as to which exact birth years determined if one was a millennial. You see, I was born in 1980, and some sources showed my birth year as the very first year eligible for the “millennial” moniker. I was always the first one to say, “I am NOT a Millennial!”. Thankfully, the Pew Research Center stepped in and clarified that, in fact, I am a member of Gen X, but they also added a new category of Gen Z.

Generations as Determined by the Pew Research

Graph of Pew Research Center Generations
Pew Research Center


  • The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (74-91 years old)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (55-73 years old)
  • Gen X: Born 1965-1980 (39-54 years old)
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (23-38 years old)
  • Gen Z: Born 1997-2012 ( 7-22 years old)

So what does this have to do with media buying?

Demographics drive virtually every tactic in the media buying world. In basic terms, knowing the demographics of consumers that you are trying to reach will inform the tactical vehicles you choose to get your message in front of them.

So which demographic should we focus on?

Media has shifted how they use demographics over the years. Case in point, females aged 25-54 used to be the coveted demographic for advertisers to win over. They were also the most expensive demographic.

Advertisers were trying to reach “mom” because back then, mom was the primary shopper in the household. You could use that broad-stroke generalization and still have an effective media strategy.

But now?

But nowadays, you have to get more specific when trying to reach “mom,” and it makes sense! A 25-year-old millennial mom has different interests and priorities versus a 42-year-old Gen X mom. Because they are interested in different mediums, this means your media buying strategy might be completely different depending on your product.

Media Buying and Men

Another curveball? Just last year, in 2020, The Hartman Group released a report, “Food Shopping in America,” that revealed more men are shopping frequently. They are now making just as many monthly store visits as women. So, brands have to think outside of the old-school focus on “mom.” Brands’ media buying strategies should include tactics to reach “mom,” yes, but not alienate “dad,” and vice versa.

Media Buying & Changing Demographics: Conclusion

As these target demographics have shifted, it becomes ever more important for brands to really know their consumer. Of course, this is critical for brand development; knowing your consumer will also inform your brand’s media buying strategy. Typically, it isn’t rocket science to figure out brands’ top-level demographics. However, it’s always a good idea to dig deeper by conducting research or holding focus groups. Doing so lets your brand learn key insights about your consumers before settling on perhaps an outdated media buying strategy.

Media buying and advertising are expensive; wasting budget dollars reaching the wrong audience makes for an ineffective campaign.

Is your brand using media buying dollars wisely?

If you have any questions about media buying and your food brand marketing budget, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food brand marketing topics, please visit our Food for Thought page or check out NewPoint’s Patrick Nycz’s book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.