Marketing is a funny thing, often what we think we are selling isn’t what a customer is buying; for example a merchant may think that his product fulfils a certain need for a customer yet the customer may have vastly differing reasons for buying a product or service that they seller isn’t fully aware of.
One example that we keep in mind is from the book “How Companies Win” (A great read that fires the brain up!) where Rik Nash was approached by an already thriving dog food company to help find new opportunities for growth.
Dog food manufacturers typically sold what they thought users wanted; food for small, medium and large dogs, in small, medium or large bags, you’re probably thinking that there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s what users need, dog food in easy to buy bags of the right size to suit the timescale the user has budget for.
Well it turns out that dog owners are a very diverse bunch and in reality they didn’t see their dogs as just small, medium or large, they actually viewed and bought for them based on their own perception of the relationship that they (and their families) had with their dog.
Nash identified five separate categories of dog owner :
Pampered Parents – View their dog as a child.
Concerned Caregivers – View their dog as part of the family.
Performance Fuelers – View their dog as an active partner.
Budget Conscious Family – View their dog as a pet.
Minimalists – View their dog as a farm implement.
The five categories range from those who love their dog like a child to those that see their dog as a tool to get work done, consequently each of these groups is prepared to spend vastly different amounts on their dog in general as well as specifically on food, the Pampered Parents would be the ones that could lavish obscene amounts of money on their dog for everything from toys to bottled doggy water to beauty treatments, whilst the minimalists don’t spend a penny more than they need to keep the dog healthy and ready to work. That’s not to say they mistreat a dog, just that they see it as a tool and treat it in a totally different way to the other groups.
Once these five different groups have been identified it’s easier to spot new opportunities and market to them in a way that includes strong buying triggers; for example tt was established from the research that the “Performance Fuelers” category was a vast untapped market where there was a latent demand because they were highly engaged consumers who check the ingredients of their dog food and would be willing to pay more for food with what they perceive is a higher nutritional value, yet nobody catered for this sector, once it was identified and marketed to there category grew rapidly.
In fact each of the groups can be targeted with a different value proposition; Minimalist can be targeted with value and health, the budget conscious with low cost, the concerned caregivers with value, health variety and the pampered parents targeted with food that has human standard characteristics. If the dog food manufacturer had simply stayed in the mindset of small, medium and large dogs a whole range of market share acquiring opportunities would have been lost.
If you can apply the mindset of trying to really establish all the reasons your potential customers are looking to buy your products or services then you’ll find you can hit your market (or even new market(s)) from fantastic angles that generate strong affinity to your brand, service or products very quickly as your offering resonates strongly with the buyers needs, wants and likes.
It’s wise to frequently sit down (at least once per year!) and work out your value proposition, why clients should need what you sell, why they should take your product or service specifically and try to step away objectively and see if you can quantify and segment your target market/identify new ones or at least the latent demands that appear as markets evolve and devise marketing strategies that push the strongest buying triggers to each one.