Monday, December 26, 2011

Why it´s useless to research generations and other big target groups

I was just going through some documents on Slideshare on marketing to Gen Y and isn´t it funny how massive this group is (and I don´t mean in absolute numbers)!! They are about 19 to 34 years old, which is a huge gap. Not that I don´t feel like 19 sometimes, but being mid 30´s is different from being in your late teens... Still, marketers and expert on generations have been selling seminars and books on the topic for millions. Saying kind of random, generic things like "find out their values before marketing".

Of course you have to. But to claim that every person between 19 and 34 has the same values is naive. And dumb. And useless.

I always get overwhelmed when presented with a brief that says things like "reach men between 18 and 30", because it gives the agency full freedom to do what the f-ck they want. No rules. Nothing you must do or can´t do. It´s a planners nightmare and a art director´s wet dream.

No need really to do much proper research, because you will get such diverse replies from people within the group it will only mislead you. Run a few focus groups with men 18-30 and the discussions will be completely different from night to night; meet a bunch of them at home for "ethnographic interviews", and you will see everything from messy boys room and dodgy dorms to neatly interior designed luxury units and houses with backyards full of children. Some will love the product, some will find it ghastly. Some will like boxing, others antiques. If you listen tooooo careful to what any of these people say about the product is not helping any brand, since it´s all so personal, individual. Useless really.

When selling beer, shampoo or any other product that is so mass it reaches mass, the strategist needs to combine a bit of swimming around in the massive pool of statistics and information on the generation, a bit of chatting with people in general and a bit of simple creativity based on what people in general like. Either narrow the target down to bulls eyes and stick to those (most times also super generic, based on age alone...) and try to come up with something fun that could work like a Hollywood film. Or find a group within the group that you start a monologue with and hope this group will drive interest from all. Find the trend setters, the cool kids, the ones everyone want to be.

I would most times go with Hollywood. I know it´s lame to do a smash hit, but if the client wants to sell a lot,  it´s better to be "Love Actually" than some obscure French stylish film the arty hipsters (claim to) watch. As long as you don´t turn every deodorant TVC into a vampire short film you´re fine :)

We all love to be excited. We all love a good story. We all love to laugh, get emotionally drawn into something. A script writer based in LA would do a terrific job in creating a soft drink ad. Bulls eyes? Can´t be bothered. Give me something Shakespeare or the good old Greeks did. Look at the structure of fairy tales and Top 20 songs. Find the psychological triggers that combine humanity, that makes the whole family laugh together at Christmas.

Be ordinary. But extraordinary ordinary - if you know what I mean...

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