The Value of Inclusion in Digital Marketing 

Carolyn Conte

How Can Demographic-Targeting Make-or-Break Companies? Why does Abercrombie suffer for a specific audience, but companies still pursue target clientele?

Segregation is a word that connotes Civil Rights injustices and hatred. However, there is a fine line between strictly excluding a part of a population and focusing on another. We will look at successful and divergent campaigns to see what works, or doesn’t.


  Courtesy   Business Insider

 Courtesy  Business Insider

1. Abercrombie & Fitch is infamous for their elitist, exclusive ads. The target audience is so specific that it deliberately eliminates some potential customers. It specifically targets rich, thin, young, white people. However, after continuous controversy over the elitist marketing, and lawsuits for their company’s prejudiced practices, their markets have been in decline for nearly three years.

2.  Limited Too was another store that suffered, and eventually failed, after targeting a narrow demographic. They sold clothes and items that were only meant for a short age range of kids, and mostly only for girls 10-12, according to the CEO of Tween Brands, Michael Rayden.

But targeting a narrow demographic must have some rewards, otherwise companies wouldn’t be so obsessed with pleasing their audience correctly. Furthermore, when a company taps into a market which was previously ignored, it can have great success.

3. Seventeen has a very particular target market, and they are doing well economically. The magazine has even created a fake persona/character to actualize their target audience and remember who they want to please. According to a sociology article from the Journal of American Culture, Seventeen named the character ‘Teena’ and even described her life;

“She's what older folks call an awkward adolescent -- too tall, too plump, too shy -- a little too much of a lot of little things. But they're big things to Teena. And though she doesn't always take her troubles to her mother, Teena writes her favorite magazine for the tip-off on the clothes she wears, the food she eats, the lipstick she wields, the room she bunks in, the budget she keeps, the boy she has a crush on.”


So what does this mean?

  • Include diversity in images : A big difference between failed and successful target marketing is deliberate or obvious prejudices clouding the reason for a target audience
  • Choose the target audience based on the product, not your desires : the target audience should not be people you want to sell to, but people your product is proved to attract most
  • Make ads welcoming: An advertisement can appeal to a particular demographic, but still keep an overall welcoming attitude
  • Be sure the product has a large enough target audience to sustain it
  • Finally, investigate your target audience: look at previous sales, who reads your website, analyze who is best to approach, why, and how. 
  • The audience should include people with a need for the product, an interest, and the money for it.

Target marketing helps a company stay on one goal and fulfill it perfectly. Linkedin writer Prachi Mohan Srivastava wrote, “If you try to market to everyone, you’ll end up marketing to no one”. The option to tailor to specific needs makes a business unique, and needed. However, we can conclude that the difference between a successful demographic targeting strategy, and a failed one, is when the target audience is too small, exclusive, and not thoughtfully analyzed.

A message can target a group without specifically excluding others. (For example, Abercrombie & Fitch is well known for specifically stating it will not sell to the poor.) Be careful when you weigh how to design your target audience. It can be the difference of feeding a need, or spreading hatred. Check out our other posts for more about marketing and branding. Featured image is courtesy of Pexel's stock photos.