How much marketing strategy, leadership methodology, and human capital strategy is based on demographics data? Most? All? It’s quite common to hear how millennials have different character traits than Gen X, or how age determines how we think, but it’s so very wrong explains David Allison. Understanding groups is best achieved through the lens of valuegraphics.
In my interview with David Allison on The Justin Brady Show he explained that demographics are simply not an effective measure from a marketing perspective or leadership perspective instead we need to look to Valuegraphics. His new research measured 380 variables, digging into what people truly value and expect from life. Using algorithmic survey-targeting techniques to collect survey information from 100,000 people, statisticians explain this data is a “random stratified statistically representative sample” of the population. Allison says this means the data is an exact representation of the real world with 95% accuracy, with a margin of error of 3.5%.
In simple terms, the data shows how closely demographical groups relate and agree on the 380 variables across the board, or don’t agree. Looking at groups as broadly as men or women, people who make specific amounts of money, baby boomers, Gen X, and even those infamous millennials we all hear about, not ONE of the groups agreed more than 25% when looking at the 380 variables. Put simply, the labels we use to better understand the population, further distance ourselves from true understanding.
Demographics Data Courtesy, David Allison
My conversation with Allison isn’t the first time this topic has come up. One of my first guests on the Justin Brady Cultcast, Jessica Kriegel found similar findings in her own research, capturing her own discoveries in her book Unfairly Labeled. Kriegel discovered the methods we use to describe various demographical groups, were more descriptive of humanity in general.
For example, some will often explain millennials desire to find meaning in their work, but her research showed the same claim has been made about every other demographic. (And indeed, people are now making that claim about Gen Z.) So how do we properly understand people from a 30k foot view? Do we abandon all attempts to group the population into meaningful categories? Allison’s research indicates a better solution: Valuegraphics.
What Are Valuegraphics?
Instead of grouping people by generation, we should group them into shared values. Allison calls this Valuegraphics. Using the central idea that values determine behavior, researchers discovered unmistakable patterns in the data from those same 100,000 survey responses. These patterns seem to be a better measure of how a specific audience will behave. The groups in this value-based method agreed nearly 89% of the time. Groups included technology, workaholics, loyalists, and home-hunters.
How Do We Apply Valuegraphics?
Allison has been building this method for over 4 years and explains why this data is such a big deal. “What we value determines what we do” he explains, adding that while it’s certainly possible to ask an individual what they value, it has been more difficult in a group sense. Obviously, this has negatively impacted our ability to lead or influence groups. That’s why Valuegraphics are key. Valuegraphics fall into 40 core categories, 340 questions that fall into 380 values.
Demographics are still valuable, but only as a description or definition of who you want to influence or communicate to. Psychographics, such as how people behave around specific events, products, etc are also valuable, but Valuegraphics add a 3rd data set that Allison believes will enhance group leadership, and marketing tactics. Allison has broken down these values into 10 major archetypes for those interested in the granularity of the data. and you can buy David Allison’s book, We Are All The Same Age Now.