Average is not the same as typical

We know that the median is often not the same as the mean, but in describing a population, it also pays to differentiate between the average person and a typical one.

For example: The average dog owner spends $500 a year on dog food. But the typical dog pamperer spends $5,000 a year (all numbers invented).

The reason the numbers are different is that the samples are different. We chop off the outliers in the second set, homing in on the kind of person we’re talking about.

This is really useful, because it enables us to be clear about the smallest viable audience. “Our typical customer” is a more accurate and useful way to start a sentence than, “the average person.” Because typical implies intent. “The person we are seeking to serve does this…”


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