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Demographics, Psychographics, and Geographics in Corporate Communication Strategy

In today’s globalized word, the corporate environment becomes increasingly complex. In fact, the success of contemporary business operations has become highly dependent on the organization’s ability to form strong, trusting relations with its stakeholders. The social aspect of business holds special significance in the 21st century, as important players across all industries are expected to bear serious responsibility for communities. In order to attain these objectives, companies rely on effective corporate communication strategies (CCS). They serve to become the bridge between organizations and stakeholders by broadcasting the corporates’ vision to the public. In this regard, the execution of CCS remains a matter of paramount importance. As such, the development of these strategies should consider various factors that determine the nature and contents of the discourse. Each organization is required to have a sufficient understanding of the stakeholder profile, as it allows it to tailor bespoke communication strategies. This paper discusses the important role of stakeholder demographics, psychographics, and geographics in the formation of CCS.

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Corporate Communication Strategy

In the 21st century, the global landscape has attained an unprecedented level of complexity. This effect is conditioned by the ongoing presence of globalization of all processes that strengthens the links between various parts of the world. Under such circumstances, the environment in which companies operate undergoes major transformations, as well. More specifically, Goodman (2019) states that today’s corporate landscape is characterized by diversity, multiculturalism, and social awareness. As such, all prominent organizations pay considerable attention to the public discourse. It is vital to remain consistent and coherent in terms of corporate communication patterns. Accordingly, responsible managers continuously analyze the effect of their messages on the target audience. In the general understanding, corporate communication is required to be precise, unambiguous, and ethical.

On the other hand, certain researchers observe the presence of non-linear CCS patterns. For example, Gulbrandsen (2019) discusses the co-existence of clarity and ambiguity in the corporate communication of the 21st century. More specifically, prominent companies manage to balance these two elements of the public discourse, thus forming a nexus of communication. As stated by Gulbrandsen (2019), the presence of ambiguity does not occur by mistake. On the contrary, its artful implementation creates some space for discourse maneuvering that organizations can use to their advantage. The clarity of such messages remains sufficient, thus creating a sense of coherence in the minds of the audience. At the same time, corporate spokespersons resort to vague statements in regards to specific topical issues, creating a sense of shared values and concepts. This approach allows each audience to interpret the messages in accordance with its own philosophical paradigm. Consequently, organizations encompass the wider masses with their communication strategies and discourse.

Nevertheless, the mere presence of both clarity and ambiguity in CCS does not suffice. The aforementioned nexus is attained only by a thorough and considerate analysis of the target audience. Otherwise, the stakeholder will perceive corporate communication as conflicting messages, and the lack of determinacy may undermine the company’s image (Gulbrandsen, 2019). In this context, a question arises as to what factors contribute to the complete understanding of appropriate and precise CCS. As discussed above, the complexity of the social landscape has reached an unprecedented level. Therefore, any major company should take into account the fact that all messages are received and processed by a diverse audience. As such, the vital step will be to determine the key characteristics of the information recipients that may affect their perception of the message. Demographical data remains one of the key behavioral determinants, meaning that corporate communication can rely on it for further effectiveness (Park and Avery, 2017). Simultaneously, the geography and psychology of the stakeholders is another critical concept of contemporary strategic planning. Accordingly, these factors play a role of pivotal importance and deserve further exploration.

The Role of Demographics

In the corporate environment, demographics form the cornerstone of most operational procedures that involve the stakeholders. This type of data comprises the primary characteristics of the people involved, namely their age group, gender, socioeconomic characteristics, and cultural background. According to Jham (2018), demographics serve as the first-tier predictors of the key business outcomes. More specifically, the combination of the demographic factors creates a certain paradigm of thought that determines the way in which a stakeholder group perceives its relations with the company. For example, these factors have a direct influence on customer satisfaction, loyalty, and the public image of the organization. The effect is enabled by the aforementioned paradigm that is used to process all incoming information. This idea includes corporate communication strategy as the key channel of the company’s vision. Stakeholders rely on the information delivered by the official channels when they form their opinions. Therefore, demographics can be considered a predictor of public reaction.

Consequently, the role of demographic data in the formation of the corporate communication strategy is of pivotal importance. The key approach to this aspect of CCS is to take a proactive route instead of remaining reactive. In the second case, the company determines its communication strategy based on the internal vision of the key objectives and the avenues of their completion. As a result, CCS is not executed in light of the target demographics and their interests. People of different genders, ages, and ethnic groups usually emphasize different, sometimes opposing aspects of life. For example, middle-aged male consumers were found by Patel et al. (2017) to be generally more supportive of pro-environmental behavior. Accordingly, demographically uninformed campaigns becoming irrelevant to the audience or even offensive to certain parts of it (Phalatsi and Chipunza, 2019). Within the reactive paradigm, organizations are forced to adjust their CCS following the initial outbreak of negativity. However, a demographically proactive approach allows them to anticipate the reaction based on the key demographical data. Ultimately, such practices become relevant, well-pointed, and informed in regards to the interests and values of target communities.

The Role of Psychographics

Psychographics account for the second factor of importance in the context of effective CCS design and implementation. This notion comprises the psychological characteristics of an individual, such as his or her interests, beliefs, concerns, and aspirations (Steiner et al., 2017). In a way, psychographics determines the person’s worldview and stance on topical issues. These features imply that the role of this concept for the corporate communication strategy is equally considerable. Steiner et al. (2017) discuss psychographics in the context of environmentally aware rhetoric. According to their research, it is important to have a full understanding of the psychological factors behind the consumers’ thinking and decision-making.

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For example, some stakeholders’ beliefs revolve around personal and public health, as well as sustainable practices. In this case, CCS needs to be tailored in accordance with the philosophy, emphasizing the factors that hold special importance for the audience. On the other hand, other stakeholders may focus on the product or service value, meaning that pricing is the key feature for them. In fact, it is likely that such beliefs have been formed due to insufficient socioeconomic stability. As such, it appears possible to distinguish a correlation between psychographics and certain demographic biases that exists on both personal and systemic levels.

The Role of Geographics

In spite of the growing importance of globalization, the geographical characteristics of the audience retain their vital status in the context of CCS. Moreover, the onset of globalized corporate operations may have contributed to the increasing role of these parameters. As modern means of communication and transportations render regions and markets of the world closely connected, companies aim to reach a global level, as well. Under these circumstances, the geographical diversity of their stakeholders equally grows. As a result, corporate communication strategies may lack cultural and regional expertise. The mechanism behind such a situation is, in many ways, similar to the aspects discussed earlier. If a company does not execute its CCS in light of the local particularities, its efforts may yield little or no result to their inappropriateness or inefficiency. For example, different parts of the world may have their own dominating paradigms of thought in regards to topical issues (Halkos and Skouloudis, 2017). While environmental concerns may be in the focus of some communities, others may emphasize the economic side of life. These principles are especially important for multinational companies aiming to encompass a variety of global markets.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the correct planning and execution of corporate communication strategies in the 21st century requires a considerable level of expertise. First of all, the diversity of today’s society makes it necessary to analyze the target demographics with all its variables. Second, the implementation of CCS is required to align with the psychographic paradigm of the stakeholders in order to address them with higher efficiency. Third, the globalization of industries prompts companies to expand their operations beyond regional and national borders. In this context, geographical and cultural awareness becomes the key to effective CCS. Ultimately, these three components form a unity that enables relevant and well-pointed practices in the area of corporate communications.

Reference List

Goodman, M. B. (2019) ‘Introduction to the special issue: corporate communication – transformation of strategy’, Journal of Business Strategy, 40(6), pp. 3-8.

Gulbrandsen, I. T. (2019) ‘The co-presence of clarity and ambiguity in strategic corporate communication – an exploratory study’, International Journal of Strategic Communication, 13(2), pp. 95-109.

Halkos, G. and Skouloudis, A. (2017) ‘Revisiting the relationship between corporate social responsibility and national culture: a quantitative assessment’, Management Decision, 55(3), pp. 595–613.

Park, S. and Avery, E. J. (2017) ‘Effects of media channel, crisis type and demographics on audience intent to follow instructing information during crisis’, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 26(1), pp. 69-78.

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Patel, J., Modi, A. and Paul, J. (2017) ‘Pro-environmental behavior and socio-demographic factors in an emerging market’, Asian Journal of Business Ethics, 6, pp. 189-214.

Phalatsi, B. C. and Chipunza, C. (2019) ‘The influence of selected demographic factors on the choice of marketing communication tools: comparison of foreign and local spaza shop owners in South Africa’, Acta Commercii, 19(1).

Steiner, B. E., Peschel, A. O. and Grebitus, C. (2017) ‘Multi-product category choices labeled for ecological footprints: exploring psychographics and evolved psychological biases for characterizing latent consumer classes’, Ecological Economics, 140, pp. 251-264.

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