I’ll admit that I didn’t watch any of the ‘big game’ (sorry, work was piling up and I used that time to get some projects done…) but I did check out the commercials from time to time and this one stopped me in my tracks. This one ad, more than any other, didn’t try to appeal to all the Superbowl viewers, they knew who their target market was and they created an ad – an ad I would argue that knocked it out of the ballpark – that spoke directly to their target audience and said “we understand you.” Read more
Posts tagged ‘target market’
At the Winter Fancy Food Show, marketing research firm Packaged Facts gave a presentation that showed who, based on their extensive research, was buying specialty foods these days. So with that, let’s introduce you to Ashley as she is most likely your target customer. Read more
Earlier this week I talked about why target marketing was important and gave a brief primer of how to go about it. Today though I was reading an interesting book, Why We Buy by Paco Underhill, which takes a look at consumer behavior and the author brought up something I hadn’t really thought about. Understanding who buys your product – ie, your target market – is also critical when it comes to designing your packaging. He points out that our population here in the US is aging at a rapid rate as the Baby Boomers, one of the largest generation our nation has ever seen, slowly starts to grey. However, many products that are purchased by seniors aren’t packaged in a way that make it easy for them to read.
Let’s use this example which Underhill touches on in the book and directly relates to my own small business – dog treats. Underhill argues – rightly I would say based on my experience in the industry – that many dog treats are purchased by seniors. By now these customers have kids who have left the nest so they have more disposable income than they’ve had in the past. However, they still have a desire to nuture and for many of them their dogs have become stand-in for their kids (as much us kids hate to hear that!). Even my own parents have a ready supply of dog treats on hand at all times. Though they have no kids at home, no grandkids nearby, and no dog of their own, they like to be able to hand out treats to the neighborhood dogs. Yesterday my father even texted me a picture of one neighborhood dog who had stopped by for his daily treat and stuck around to play a game of Fetch.
Yet most dog treat packaging, my own included to a certain extent, does not take seniors into account during the design process. No matter how we fight it, as we age our eyes age too and that means that small font may be hard for older eyes to clearly see and color can blend together easier leaving packaging undististinguishable which means that it mighgt be passed over by this huge and powerful demographic.
Taking seniors into account when designing packaging certainly isn’t limited to dog treats. No matter how ‘hip’ you think your product is, seniors make up such a large portion of the population that you need to understand if they will be buying from you. Understanding the demographics of your area and what percentage is made up of seniors will help you determine the level of focus you have to make on being sure that your product is easily accessible to them. Even if they aren’t buying the product for themselves, Boomers have an incredibly spending power and may be buying your ‘hip’ product for their grandkids. But they won’t buy anything if they can’t read the packaging and easily understand the benefits your product offers.
(And I’m now expecting to an angry call from my parents about calling them senior in 3…2…1…)
Last night I watched another episode of America’s Next Great Restaurant and the main focus of the show centered around changing the names and slogan for many of the restaurant-wanna-be’s. So everyone sits down at their worktables and tries to come up with names and slogans. All of the experts – including the judges like Bobby Flay and some top ad executives in the industry – said that they wanted the restaurant names and slogans to tie in with who the owner is and tie in with the flavors. But what about with the customers – shouldn’t it resonate with them? And in order to do so shouldn’t they know who their target market is?
This isn’t a problem just on TV, I’m always astounded when I meet a food entrepreneur who has a simply amazing product and when asked who their target market is they look confused. “Target market,” they say, “everyone loves my product.”
Unfortunately ‘everyone’ is a bit of a gross overgeneralization whether you’re selling a specialty product or are trying to start up the new fast-food restaurant. You simply can’t make a product that will appeal to everyone. Even the mega-brands know this which is why many of the mega-brands have different product lines for the same product. And each of those product lines is marketed to a different segment of the market.
You have to understand who your targert market is before you can start making big marketing decisions which includes your name and slogan. Figuring out who makes up your target market is at the core of successful small business marketing strategies. Truthfully, it’s at the core of every successful marketing strategy for big businesses too and it’s something that the mega-brands excel at. They have the research and people-power to determine who exactly is interested in their products and can break down their customers into segmented groups such as “Power Shopper,” “Social-Media Mom,” and “After-work coach Dad.” With this information in hand, the mega-brands are able to create advertising plans that appeal to their segment of the market.
You can do the same thing – albeit on a smaller scale – for your specialty food company. Determining your target market will help you craft marketing strategies that will give you a high return on investment including which distribution strategies – be it a storefront, a farmers market booth, wholesale accounts, etc – are best for your company. Equally as important, understanding who your core customers are will help you price your products appropriately. And, oh yeah, it will also help you create a name and slogan that resonates with customers.
So how do you do that on your limited small business budget? The first step is that you need to understand, at a high level, why people would buy your product. People typically make purchases based on three broad reasons:
- Satisfy basic needs
- Solve problems
- Make themselves feel good
Let’s take a look at the fictional company Aunt B’s Jams. The jam solves the problem of jam-less toast for toast and pb&j-lovers but it also makes people feel good about themselves because they are buying organic jam from a jam artisan. Already you can start to see market segments emerge. Since it may be hard to identify who the toast and pb& j-lovers are in a market, it makes sense to focus on people who would buy the product to make themselves feel better. And we’ve already identified some of the reasons people would feel better from buying the product – because it’s made with organic ingredients and/or because they like buying handmade products from local artisans.
Next you need to learn more about your market using demographic information. For example if you think people will value buying local then you’ll want to know more about your local market including the age, income, and general personality of the people living in your area. You can get a lot of this information via the US Census reports. Just a note that the 2010 Census information is currently being released so may not be immediately available.
Once you have the demographic and behavioral information (some ‘behavioral information’ may simply have to be based on your gut feeling or talking informally to a few potential customers since you may not have access to conducting a complete market analysis), you can write an ideal customer description which includes a focus on benefits that your product offers. For Aunt B’s Jams, this might read: ‘My target customer is a 30-or-40-something mom who takes pride in feeding her family organic ingredients that are made by someone they trust.’
With this knowledge Aunt B can start to develop a distribution strategy (perhaps farmers markets where Aunt B can interact and share her story with customers), determine the right pricing (since these moms are willing to pay more for organic she can be priced above mass-produced every-day jam but not too high as moms in her locale do watch their shopping budgets), and can determine which products would appeal to that market (strawberry and raspberry ought to be well received whereas kumquat may be a bit too eccentric to make kids happy). This information also shows that Aunt B’s Jams is a good name for her business since her target market values a human connection with the food they buy.
It’s impossible to be everything to everyone – especially for a small food business with a limited budget. But by identifying your target market and learning more about them you can become the go-to product for a group of people who value what you offer.