Modern Audiences : An Era Of Complex Identities Essay

Modern Audiences : An Era Of Complex Identities Essay

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From their professions and part-time passions to their private lives, modern audiences are leading increasingly diverse lifestyles. As media companies confront this reality, they are changing their tactics to fulfill their audience’s manifold social identities — and accompanying needs. The following ethnographic observations, from a JCPenney Department store in Niles, Illinois, shed light on these efforts to capture attention in an era of complex identities.
The first noted pattern emerged in verbal cellphone use by women, approximately 25 to 35 years old and accompanied by children. Foremost, these women frequently called and spoke on the phone, simultaneously browsing clothing racks and caring for kids. Nevertheless, multiple women struggled to text message, becoming visibly frustrated and finally resigning to using the phone’s verbal capabilities. Here, texting appeared incompatible with the moms’ aggregate attempts to hold babies, push strollers, discipline kids, and shop. Only this flexible access to media would befit the women’s roles as caregivers. Therefore, the act of calling enabled and streamlined a norm of multitasking, essential to a caregiver’s responsibilities. As illustrated, media companies must adapt to their target audiences by responding to a diversity of media entry needs. Whether scrolling on a digital platform or listening to podcasts in the car, audiences will only engage with media if it fits their unique circumstances and social roles.
Furthermore, female consumers’ call frequency reflected an attached meaning of relationship allocated to cellphones. To clarify, shoppers in groups of two or more made an average of one phone call each hour; however, this frequency increased, up to three, for...


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...ong periods of time made long-form, print media more appealing. Secondly, media companies must offer the perception, that their content and medium enables their audience to live easier and more fulfilling lives. This can be done by adapting to needs for flexible access, as illustrated by the multitasking mothers, or providing emotional and psychological satisfaction within the context of everyday activities, such as shopping. Third, media companies’ success lies in their ability to provide some level of gratification. This can be done through an affirmation of one’s existing social identity, increasing one’s inclusion into a collective community, or providing improved accessibility for one to maintain and build relationships. In essence, media is not detached from consumers – rather, it is increasingly embodying and adapting to their needs, identities, and desires.

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