By Consumer Dummies

Rather than look at a target market solely in terms of demographics, life stage analysis considers what people are doing with their lives, recognizing that it may affect media behavior and spending patterns.

Usage may also differ by life stages, as shown in the table. Note that the set of life stages described in the table may not accurately reflect the wider range of today’s lifestyles.

Life Stage Segmentation

Life Stage Products They Buy
Single, no children Fashion items, vacations, recreation
Married, no children Vacations, cars, clothing, entertainment
New nesters, children under 6 Baby food and toys; furniture and new homes
Full nest, youngest over 6 Children’s items, activities, and education
Full nest, children over 16 College, possibly travel and furniture
Empty nest, children gone Travel, cruises, vacations
Retired couples Moves to warmer climates, housing downsizing
Solitary working retiree Travel, vacations, medical expenses
Retired solitary survivor Medical expenses

Source: Adapted from http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/economic/friedman/mmmarketsegmentation.htm#C1.

You’re looking for a fit between the profile of your target audience and that of the social media service.

With more flexible timing for going through life passages, demographic analysis isn’t enough for many types of products and services. Women may have children later in life; many older, nontraditional students go back to college; some retirees reenter the workforce to supplement Social Security earnings. What your prospective customers do each day may influence what they buy and which media outlets they use more than their age or location.

For instance, the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found in January 2014 that 28 percent of cellphone users access a social networking site on a typical day, with the most likely users being higher educated, higher income, young, black, or Hispanic.