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Having an in-depth understanding of your consumer makes it far easier to find the sweet spot for your brand’s investment and growth.

Brand marketers need to be selective about their strategic targets and prime prospects because using a blanket approach doesn’t work. The biggest opportunity in the consumer goods industry today is to understand who the target is more clearly. Many brands make the mistake of not having a clearly defined target as well as not understanding as much as they can about that target.

Defining relevant target consumers and prime prospects focuses your marketing efforts. Your strategic targets are the majority of your brand users from your total consumer category. They are all the consumers to whom your equity is relevant and meaningful. Your prime prospects are a subset of the strategic target based on specific wants and needs which will be the source of near-term growth. By defining the biggest opportunity for the next two years for your brand, you are able to define your activities in a more focused way.

Holistic profiling matters

Defining your targets using demographics alone is a mistake. Accurately profiling consumers must include psychographics, demographics, attitudes, shopping, media behaviour and life stage. If you don’t take a holistic approach, you may not create a connection. The softer issues are the biggest drivers for consumers.

Harley-Davidson is a great example of a brand that understands holistic profiling. From a psychographics point of view the brand is about a lifestyle – it’s about being a rebel, a thrill seeker – at least on weekends. From a demographic point of view its target are males, approximately 46 years old, professionals with higher incomes. If the brand had focused purely on the rebel seeker it would not have appealed to a highly lucrative demographic; and focusing purely on the demographics would not have created the right strategy for the rebel seeker.

In a nutshell, companies need to go back to understanding their consumers.

Aperio’s top tips for 2016:

  • Spend budget on these research techniques: qualitative research, lifestyle immersion and longitudinal research.
  • If you don’t have budget for research, apply what you already know and come up with a definition of who your consumer is.
  • Find out if your target market has changed. If it’s been three years, you need to do a review. Are they still a strategic target? How have they changed?
  • Within your strategic targets, define prime prospects who will provide the biggest opportunity in the next two years and develop campaigns and activities around them.
  • When defining strategic targets, make sure they will deliver on the business targets. If they won’t, your strategic target is wrong.
  • Review internal capabilities – teams may need further training on holistic profiling and defining their targets accurately.

Marketers need to revisit the way they understand and define their strategic targets and prime prospects.

Michael Wood is founder and director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The big takeout: marketers need to profile their target markets in a holistic manner in order to optimally focus their marketing efforts.