Looking Past Preconceptions

Let’s play a little marketing game this morning.  I’ll throw out a series of facts and you put on your marketing hat and decide if the facts make you want to target this group.  The point I’m going to make is that the answers may surprise you, not because you will find them unbelievable but because I’m betting that you have some preconceptions which will skew your thinking.  As we’ve discussed before, I think that is a huge problem in business (and in life and political thought as well!).

Ready?  Let’s play!

The group I’m thinking about targeting has a population that is increasing at a rate of 2.6 percent per year, considerably faster than the current 1.2 percent annual growth in the population as a whole.  That rate of growth is expected to continue for some time.

As consumers, they do a number of things that demonstrate how they choose to spend whatever discretionary income they have.  For example, they travel abroad, dine out and spend a higher proportion of their incomes on food and drink than do other population segments.  Last year, they spent $87 billion on new cars, compared to $70 billion spent by other population segments.

They are working as well, with their labor force participation rates increasing by 3 to 11 percentage points between 1990 and 2009. Today, they are the fastest-growing age group in the U.S. workforce.

Finally, from an opportunistic standpoint, they do not think they are adequately served by marketers, retailers or manufacturers. They  also complain that most stores are not only understaffed but also that the staff on hand is not trained well enough to help them.  They shop often: Two-thirds of those in this segment say they shop twice a week or more.

Got the picture in your mind?  Well, the first points are about the over-60 population, the point about cars is the over-50 group, the employment stats are 65 and over folks, the shopping stats are older folks as well.  This all comes from A.T. Kearney’s Global Maturing Consumer study.  Most marketers don’t even give consumers aged 60+ much thought, and if you watch programs such as news which skew to this population, most of the ads are for drugs, diabetes kits, and walkers, not more broad-based consumer items.

The point is that the traditional marketing “truisms” of the mature market have changed dramatically yet marketers accept the old saws as gospel.  If I made a statement like “most consumers over 60 aren’t consumers at all – they’re sitting at home watching TV with little disposable income”, some of you would agree and we’d both be totally wrong.

Challenge “facts.”  Make people source their information, ideally from multiple places.  Form your own opinions.  You just might find some overlooked nuggets that you can turn into consumers.

Your thoughts, please?

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1 Comment

Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks

One response to “Looking Past Preconceptions

  1. Pingback: What’s A Friend Worth? « Consult Keith

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