Stop labelling consumers!

It’s not uncommon to see consumers boxed off as one particular type; from generic classifications such as a “foodies” right through to “techies”. Many agencies have long prided themselves on having the specialist niche-market knowledge to target one or other of these consumer groups.

But, the purchasers are becoming increasingly savvy and demonstrate an interest in varying markets that impact their buying decision. If we look at disposable income, traditionally products and services may target such groups labelled as “the high-end consumer” or the “bargain hunter”. However, what all of these groups actually want is resonance value, which in terms of consumer profiling, has created a huge middle ground where these once separated audiences now hold very similar standards.

The likes of Lidl and Aldi report regularly that their customers are increasingly a mixed and overlapping demographic, despite what the core brand values would traditionally suggest. And likewise, markets that were considered niche a decade ago, such as sport, technology and wellness are looking for a slice of this amalgamated consumer market audience!

Poundland for example has launched a £1 fitness range, ActivLife, as well as introducing protein shakes and energy bars to its growing portfolio of products. This is the perfect example of a once-niche market really making headway into the mainstream. From the clients’ perspective, would Poundland have been looking for an agency with concentrated fitness knowledge to promote the range? Highly unlikely.  

The launch of the Apple watch, the company’s first foray into wearable technology, provides another example of a brand that wants to target all consumers, rather than a special group. Particularly since the launch of the iPhone 3, Apple has taken an undifferentiated approach to market segmentation. Their innovation strategy is to provide solutions that appeal to the everyday consumers, and its approach has never been to exclusively appeal to those early technology adopters with high disposable incomes. This undoubtedly has played a major part in its success.

For PR professionals working in consumer markets, regardless of whether that be food, beauty, technology or sport to list a few, it has never been more important to possess a wider breadth of crossover, consumer market knowledge.

No one purchaser is merely interested in one sector, and to some extent, you may as well throw away the traditional assumptions associated with age old ABC demographics, as they simply do not stack up against today’s consumer habits.

If you were a brand with an everyday proposition, who would you entrust your PR budget with? The agency that prides itself with specialist market knowledge in this area, or one that understands the broader landscape of consumer behaviour, and their overlapping interests and values?

Could an agency with very niche experiences, contacts and solutions embedded in a specialist market deliver you a high level of exposure in the mainstream consumer lifestyle channels? As brands continue to steer away from being trapped by traditional classifications, it will be interesting to see the impact this has on communications professionals that do not adopt a more holistic and all-encompassing approach their PR tactics. A strong consumer PRO can adapt their approach to suit many markets; can the same be said for specialist PROs

Rhianon Williams, Associate Director, Escapade PR

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