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Understanding the Average Joe

Nikki Baker

Understanding the Average Joe

Understanding average

At SXSW, I attended various sessions, the one that stuck with me this year was, Understanding Average – The Inertia of Culture: SXSW by Maggie Gross at Digitas. During the session, Maggie discussed how marketers are always talking about the average American or “average Joe,” but noted that we don’t know who this person is. No one feels like they’re average, so what’s the deal?

Maggie pointed out that there are two general types of average that interestingly relate back to geography.

The two types of average

  • The top 10 DMAs (top 10 average–32% of US)
  • The other 200 or so DMAs in the rest of the country (middle average–68% of US).

The different averages have different traits

  • The top 10 average loves being in the know of pop culture, uses badge status as social currency, likes new and innovative
  • Middle average prefers security, steadfastness, loyalty, etc.

Key learnings

  1. Think about how geography, media and marketing shape the averages’ reality.
  2. Ask yourself how openness to experience impact the way they act in their community?
  3. What incentives make their decisions make sense?
  4. What incentives can you offer to change their behavior?
  5. Know your audience, tailor messages and keep asking questions

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