At the end of my marketing communication class, a student asked me to share the one thing I would want them to remember from this term. My answer: the target market drives everything.

I reminded them of the case study about Dove. Cosmetic and personal products had been almost exclusively marketed featuring beautiful models until market research revealed that 98% of women did not characterize themselves as beautiful. As a result, Unilever launched the Real Beauty Campaign featuring ordinary women, targeting those who did not see themselves as beautiful. The viral video Evolution – debunking the beauty myths – was viewed 20 million times and sales of the beauty bars jumped from $2.5 billion to $4 billion in the campaign’s first ten years.

McDonald’s research revealed that their primary customer was blue-collar males who ate at the restaurant several times a week. Have you seen that demographic featured in McDonald’s ads? No, because instead, they chose to target children (who were not eating there at the time), knowing that kids, in turn, would bring in parents and open up a lucrative new market for them.

Bernie Sanders’ popularity is due in large part because he focused on the younger generations in ways no other candidate has by targeting them hard via social media with messages that appeal to their demographic.

The secret sauce of marketing is appealing to those who have been overlooked by others. Instead of spending all of your time chasing after the customers everyone else is, think about who is not currently your client and figure out what message may resonate with them.

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