Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Microtrends of the World Unite...

As a creative, I’m reliant on a good brief from a planner. Where briefs often fall down is in the audience research, which often lacks incisive analysis. If I can get my head around who I’m aiming stuff at, it helps massively. I’m not a creative who goes off on a flight of fancy. I like to communicate properly with my audience. A pen portrait that gives me a few quirks or a peek into their lives is the kind of ammunition upon which I thrive.

With this in mind, I’ve enjoyed reading ‘Microtrends’ by Mark J. Penn (the pollster who left the Hillary Clinton campaign earlier this year). Penn’s hypothesis is that sub-groups of people that from less than 1% of the population can provide a big enough customer base for specialised companies and kickstart bigger changes in society. The book is made up of pen portraits of the nuanced marketing segments he’s identified, like older moneyed single women (‘cougars’) dating younger men and ‘pro-semites’ from other faiths bagging eligible Jewish husbands and wives.

I work in the online world, so I can see how internet-based businesses can position their products to meet the needs of these niche audiences. I’d like to see a lot more of Penn’s combination of statistical trends and creative ‘pen portraits’ in my brief. I’m imagining online ads with different executions to appeal to specialised audiences and sophisticated media placement strategies, as opposed to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of many campaigns.

For instance, a mobile phone company can’t exist selling to 1% of the population, but it could tailor its packages to many of those 1% segments and build up its aggregate market share. Given that the ‘new economy’ is meant to be based on ultra-agility, I’m continually surprised how lumbering most marketing of larger businesses is…

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