InsightsRetailSite Selection

Why Consumer Intent Is More Powerful Than Demographics for Site Selection

By October 31, 2016 No Comments

Someone sent me an interesting article buried on Google’s blog dating back to December 2015.

It’s titled “Why Consumer Intent Is More Powerful Than Demographics”.

Clearly they are self-promoting their services, as I guess so am I, but there still are some interesting tidbits and data to take from the article that point to the future of retail being tied to better data—in this case, consumer intent.

To quote them, “Intent beats identity.”

This is the founding premise of IdealSpot. Demographics are people’s identity, but your identity doesn’t dictate your likes, wants, or needs—your search intent or social signals do. We map this for our retailers to help them better understand where their target audience is, and, more importantly, where their market opportunities are.

Relying on demographics is limiting because it only tells part of the story of a target populace or area. The retailers that adapt and start incorporating this intent will be better positioned in their retail placement.

Convenience is playing an increasing role in retail with the advent of Amazon Prime and their Prime Now service and we are seeing the major retail centers suffer for it (i.e. Target, Best Buy, Office Depot, etc.).

For instance, if I need a golf club to replace the driver I broke over my knee this past weekend, I would type into my Google Map app on my iPhone “golf clubs” and see the nearest golf stores near me. Or, if I wanted to find a good spin class to try and deal with my anger issues on the golf course, I might ask a question to my Facebook friends if they can recommend a good gym.

Both of these “actions” are captured via search and social and go beyond my “identity” the assumptions retailers make on it (my identity).

If there was a golf store near my home or office, I would stop and check it out. If not, I would just go online and compare prices at a few online retailers and roll the dice on sizing/weight/feel/etc. and hope I didn’t have to go through the hassle of returning it.

While demographics will always have a place in the marketing playbook, the brands that understand and respond to intent are better positioned in the market, and better able to predict where they will be best set up for success.

To prove the point that “Intent beats identity” Google provided this example in their article:

Who buys baby products?

Who buys baby products?

“According to our research, 40% of baby product purchasers live in households without children. This is also true for 52% of baby product influencers. These people could be grandparents and cousins, friends, and co-workers. And search is their #1 way of finding out about these products. As you can see, if you want to reach this valuable audience, demographics alone won’t cut it. Marketers who consider intent from the onset are primed to win consumer hearts, minds, and dollars.”

In conclusion, yes, intent beats identity, but identity still plays a vital role in site selection and we will continue to provide both demographics and geo-located demand data alongside real-time traffic, market void and gap analysis, cannibalization, etc. to help our retailers get a full-view of their target markets.

Marc Smookler

About Marc Smookler

Marc Smookler has founded 6 companies—2 of which have been acquired and 3 of which are market leaders in their respective spaces—the leading brick-and-mortar retail analytics company (, a leading online retailer (, and a cutting-edge marketing services platform ( Marc’s companies have generated over $300M in lifetime revenues and sold over 150,000 products worldwide.

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