Here’s a quick case study of a deodorant that became a top seller through nothing more than pinpoint targeting of its customers:
In Brandwashed: Tricks Companies use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, we learn how Axe Deodorant took over their market through targeting.
Unilever executive David Cousino tells us that Unilever first analyzed the potential male deodorant user by breaking men down into six profiles:
- The Predator — He takes advantage of drunk girls, and lies about his job and where he lives
- Natural Talent — Athletic, smart, and confident. He doesn’t need to lie to score
- Marriage Material — Humble and respectful, he’s the sort of guy you want to bring home to Mom and Dad
- Always the Friend — He always hits that glass ceiling
- The Insecure Novice — He has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, and things get awkward fast — the geeks and nerds
- The Enthusiastic Novice — He has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, but he’s outgoing and tries valiantly anyway
Based on these six profiles, they chose to target the ‘Insecure Novice,’ since these are the guys who need the most help in getting women.
And frankly, this is the target market that could most easily be persuaded into buying a product – ANY product – that could potentially help them get over their nerdiness and get the woman. Or women. Lots of women.
The next step was to create the ads. Research showed that the ultimate male fantasy isn’t to have just one woman at a time – it’s to be irresistible to several sexy women at once. (Seriously, did they really need research to determine this?)
That’s why the TV ads proclaim that if you use Axe Deodorant, you will get the chicks. ALL the chicks.
Axe came out of nowhere to be the #1 male antiperspirant / deodorant brand.
Notice they weren’t targeting EVERY man. They didn’t target married men, old men, men who could already get women on their own and so forth. They targeted ONE demographic – men in their 20’s and 30’s who were nerdy and had trouble getting women.
But in the process, they had a great deal of crossover into the other groups as well.
This is an added benefit of targeting that most marketers don’t realize. They think in order to get the biggest share of the market, they must target everyone.
But when you target everyone, you tend to get almost no one. Paradoxically, when you target one specific group, you tend to get customers from all the other groups as well.
One side note: In this case, Axe’s marketing worked almost TOO well. High school kids were completely dousing themselves in Axe, thinking they would get every girl in class to fall all over them.
Instead, school districts complained of kids reeking of the cologne-like smell.
How could Axe have fixed this? Perhaps by cautioning its users that because of the power of Axe, a normal amount was actually more effective than going full coverage.
Instead, Axe backpedaled a bit from their original campaign, and sales declined.
Which is another lesson – when you find a target market that works for your product – or better still, you target your product to the right market – don’t change what’s working.
Here’s what you can do:
- Make a list of potential target markets for your next product.
- From that list, choose the market – or demographic – you want to target.
- Create a profile of ONE person in that market – this is your ideal customer.
- Tailor your product and your message to that one person.
- Dance around your office as you see the sales come flooding into your in box.
Stop targeting everyone and start targeting your ideal customer. Once you do, it will become clear how you should market, where you’ll find your customers, and how to get them on board. And yes, your sales will almost certainly increase.