The Importance of Audience

Logo of Thread International

I recently backed a very successful Kickstarter campaign, but I’m concerned that the product is targeting people a generation younger than I am. When I wear it, will the look suit me?

The product is a backpack. I can use a new backpack to replace the HP-branded one I’ve been toting around for years. My husband received it at a conference and gifted it to me. It’s functional but not stylish, and some of the zippers have broken. The water bottle pockets are on the outside, and I lost a reusable coffee cup when it fell out during my bus commute. The dangling straps sometimes get in the way.

At first glance, I loved everything about the Better Backpack by Thread International. The fabric is made from recycled water bottles. The backpack can hold my laptop and everything else I need for my portable office. It doesn’t have any of the drawbacks of my current bag. I can store a water bottle or reusable coffee cup, or maybe both, in the zippered side pocket. The straps are continuous, without any dangling parts that can snag. But when I kept reading, I saw that the backpack was available in “Colors for Adulting.”

I had been an adult for a long time when the word “adulting” went viral a few years ago. I legally became an adult the year that Kelly Williams Brown, the author of Adulting, was born. Back in the 80s and 90s we somehow managed to turn into responsible adults without the benefit of her book. True, I felt that I was play-acting at adulthood when I was 22 and a fresh college grad. But I figured it out. Time passes, and we grow up.

My oldest son is now 22, and he’s doing a fine job of adulting. He is gainfully employed. He and a friend are sharing an Ikea-furnished apartment. In one text, he shared that he had bought a vacuum cleaner, among other purchases. I don’t know if my son has read Brown’s book (it’s aimed more at young women anyway), but it doesn’t matter. He’s got this.

My reaction to the use of the word “adulting” to describe the backpack points out the importance of audience when writing marketing copy. The language and the photos of attractive young people identify the target audience. The target customer is between 22 and 30, earning well above a living wage, and environmentally conscious. But that doesn’t mean that someone outside the target audience won’t be interested.

I backed Thread’s Kickstarter campaign at a level that earns me a backpack once they are ready for delivery. Unfortunately, that won’t be until February 2019, but I can wait. I am an adult, after all. According to Thread, the appropriate backpack colors for adulting are black, brown, or grey. I’m going to choose grey, and I hope it doesn’t look too young on me.