Understanding the demographics of your business' clientele is crucially important, yet it's something many businesses do wrong. Sometimes the biggest and best buyers are under-served because we've failed to change with our changing crowd. A prime example of this is the geek community. Routinely, women face dicrimination from the geek community; many of the ‘old school’ organizers and business owners state that women are not a significant part of their target audience. However, my own side project (CapitalGeekGirls.com) has been very successful and built on the foundation that there are indeed geek women out there, and they wish to feel represented as well.
By looking at the research available on the topic, we’ve ascertained that the demographics of the geek population fluctuate, depending on what portion of the geek community we are discussing. For instance, in the world of comic book fans, women make up only 25% of self-professed fanatics, whereas San Diego Comic-Con (the largest and most famous geek convention in the world) states that at least 40% of their visitors are female. The age range of convention goers and comic book readers are close to the same: 16-34 and 18-45 respectively. The age range of convention goers is likely skewed by the number of parents bringing their children with them, however, and is likely aligned with the comic book reader age bracket when other factors (like spending at the con) are taken into account.
Half of all comic book fanatics are estimated to be single, which is a high number and could be of marketing value to geek businesses. Geek events and conventions are not known for being great places for socializing outside of ‘geek talk’, so perhaps there is room for offering some events or resources for greater interaction.
In terms of video game players, the stats aren’t far off the convention ones. 45% of gamers are women, and 68% of gamers are over 18. This tells us that the geek industry’s insistence of marketing to kids is a)ineffective and b)likely missing out on great opportunities to market to adults—especially as 89% of game purchases made by kids are done with their parents present.
A powerful article by How Not To Suck At Game Design talks about disruptive marketing as the answer to why the industry and population think women aren’t part of the demographic, even though we clearly are: in a nutshell, a lot of marketing work has been put into convincing a specific demographic of men are somehow ‘elite fans’, the only ones worthy of the industry’s attention; so we turn to disruptive marketing, which essentially means working against the grain to burst a marketing ‘bubble’ like this one. That’s when things like Tank Girl, Minecraft, and the Simpsons manage to break through the glass ceiling.
At Capital Geek Girls, we have developed our blogazine to be populated by almost entirely geek women writers, and we talk about the geek world in a wide variety of ways. Sometimes we sound just like our male geek writer counterparts, and sometimes we really don’t. Not long ago we had seven writers talk about the ‘fake geek girl’ prejudice. We got tons of hits and sparked some seriously controversial facebook discussions. In terms of getting women to be recognized in geekdom, we’re definitely taking the route of disruptive marketing.
Remember that identifying shifts in your own target market can be the difference between being behind the curve, or acting as a 'curve maker'. Consider your own options in terms of researching and acknowledging that your key demographic may be shifting, and plan proactively for the next wave.
If you'd like more ideas and information, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.