Monday, 20 August, 2007

What can you say about this man?

“He has bought Brand A. What does that tell you about him?” How many times have you heard this question? How many times have you had to made up a wonderful pen picture of this customer, based on this one single purchase and agreeing with brand manager’s reading of who constitute his market?

And how many times have you told yourself that this Sherlock Holmes act is totally absurd?

Holmes would at least have a well-used object, with plenty of tell-tale marks on it, to base his deductions on. All you have is a single purchase. And some completely unsubstantiated assumptions.

Yet brands’ creative and media plans are based on these mental gymnastics.

Is it so difficult to say, “The only thing we can tell about the customer is that he can, most probably, afford this brand. If we have additional data on customers, we can probably hazard a few more guesses. For instance, if we know that 67% of customers are Sindhi grandfathers with four-and-a-half gold-filled teeth, we can say, ‘There’s a 67% chance that our new friend is a Sindhi grandfather with four-and-a-half gold teeth.’ Beyond that we can’t say anything.”?

Why must we know our customers profiles? Why can’t we just restrict our interest to the whys and wherefores of their liking our brand?

We use many brands ourselves: In how many cases do we fit those brands’ (apparent) target markets? Or are we ‘beyond marketing’, non-slot-able, unique, different?

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