The struggle of defining the target market. The argument between me and the professor.

Business World

I watched Apple’s one of the very first keynotes released back in 2001, introduced the first Ipod. It trigger my marketing nature in many ways. We will discuss one of them today (because with no need for any academic background or too much of grey matter, one would find Apple’s keynote absolutely inspiring and educational. So much to learn from and to think about)

On the big screen, showed clearly 2 sentences (it’s rather a phrase or groups of words than a sentence) of less than 5 words “TARGET MARKET” and “EVERYONE”.

Apple, as announced by its founder Steve Jobs, targets everyone, not the group of young 18-35, upper middle income, tech-savvy. No, none of that. It targets everyone.

And it is a right choice just by looking at Apple revenue every year.

Compare to its rivals, for example Blackberry, Blackberry targets a smaller, more distinct group of customers. People who can find a common between them and the product in term of characteristics, bring out social statement. Or in another ways, Blackberry has its marketing plan exactly like what we have been taught in a marketing class at a business school.

In the end, Blackberry, in term of their revenue, cannot defeat Apple and win this competition of technology and marketing.

So is it because of having a smaller, more specific group of customer, Blackberry failed in winning over the big market? Or is it because Iphone already dominated the market that Blackberry’s only tactic is to narrow down to a more succinct group?

Navigate to my university for a little bit. A professor at my school asked us in our new project creating and marketing a new product to target “Everyone, everyone possible. Why narrow down. Just target everyone”. I reacted quiet strongly to that thinking how is it even possible to target “everyone” and that his instruction/demand is nonsense. On the side note, in the assessment, we have to include a report clearly written with the target group (normally based on consumption pattern and loyalty level, primarily based on geo/socio aspects), and reasons why we choose that group of customers, so I was a little bit guarded, where all the marks come from if on our slide all we have is a gigantic “EVERYONE” and how we are going to defence our choice logically other than “Because our product is cool. Very. That everyone will like it and buy it. And because everyone is potential so we target every-single-one”. I can’t do that. As a well-trained marketing student, I just could not do that. So me and one other Asian boy pretty much fought for our “niche segment”. We, as the Asian, believed in serving a niche market of assured sales for profit, easier, more efficient with no wastage marketing and communication effort. And once we believed in something, we would want others to know of and believed in it too, we want to defence our ideas. We had reasons, logical ones, to back up our belief so it sound more right than ever to ourselves and to others. We were very likely to keep our beliefs. 5 other group members of mine were not very enthusiast in fighting back since they were ok with everything. Its either they found the professor’s idea acceptable and doable but they can works around it and can make any other ideas work; or they didn’t have any point of view of their own. And I can say they were more open to taking in opinions. As the result, the group decided to target 2 different niche markets with 2 versions of the product. That finished for our first assessment but when we moved on to our next, the mentioned professor once again, asked to target “EVERYONE”. This time I were really pissed off. Why the hell on earth would a marketer in doing the very significant marketing plan would want to list “everyone” as the target market. I would still be very pissed if today, I didn’t see the keynote of Apple introducing the first ever Ipod where it’s written the bullshit word I swore at few days ago “Target market: Everyone”.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

I asked myself why would a successful nation-wide firm make such a failure decision, no they would not, this is a fatal mistake, choosing the wrong target market, that it would bring them down and they would not stand where they are now. And I asked myself so why such firm choose a “target” market consist of everyone, equal 7 billions human beings of this planet. I see a potential chances in everyone, I see purchase intentions in everyone, but I know I can only reach of them with each different approaches. But not for Apple, they see those chances, but they don’t get stuck in the challenge of multiples approaches for each group of customers, they come out with one and only one marketing strategy (which include more than what we can see lying on the surface if we do not study them closely and thoroughly with critical eyes) and with one and only one product.

  1. Apple has the actual good product. Do they? Can we discuss Apple’s product’s performance some other times? Compare to Samsung, Apple’s design is far out. Compare to Nokia’s enduring, Nokia 1- Apple 0. Compare to personality, Blackberry wins. So what make an Apple’s product better than others while one have to admit that Apple’s system is far more complicated and difficult to use compare to Android system.
  2. They make their employees use their products. How many employees does Apple have? 30? 100? 500? No, it is on unit of thousand, and that only count full-time equivalent. First, increase salary of each employees by 50$ per month, when the new products come out, they have enough “spare”money or they think they have enough (thanks to the recent increase in salary) to go and get the newest invention. Second, who do you think are the people sitting in the big stadium listening to a new unknown product? Yes, they are the employees of the company. There are presses but mainly employees. Here is where the power of marketing begin. move to 3 
  3. They make it sound technologically smart that everyone want to have one. Where it all come to the magic of Steve Jobs in having his magnificent marketing strategy and public speaking skills to pitch the new product and inspired thousand of people thinking this is the future. What make a 20 years old sitting through an hour and 30 minutes watching a middle-age men in black turtle neck tucked in high mid-waisted faded jeans talking about technology? It takes a father proudly and enthusiastically talks about his own baby because he makes everything sound interesting and he believes in his baby. In this case, it’s Steve Jobs and Apple’s products.
  4. They announce it publicly this is for everyone, you don’t have to be young, you don’t have to be 18-35, you don’t have to be upper middle class, you don’t have to be tech-savvy. If you are, that is great, it make sure you are into our products. But if you are not, it’s fine, because we are for everyone.
  5. The niche group will make sure Apple makes profit out of its product. The niche, selected group also make sure their social circle will be bombard with endless day and night of talks on Apple’s magic, on human’s future lie on the hand of Apple. Word-of-mouth my dear friends, and everyone will be targeted.

Get back to my professor’s “everyone life motto”. We have a very good product, far better than Apple dealing with its competitors. We have such great competitive advantage. We don’t have thousands of employees but we have our very supportive families and un-willingly audience of classmate. We have a team of 7 strong (some are not compatible but lets just say we’re all strong) marketers who gave birth to our one very own product. All it’s need now is the greatness of marketing and communication skills in our “keynote” and a viral marketing strategy in all social media platforms, enough to generate voluntary word-of-mouth. What’s next? A BOOOOOOM! AND WE GET VIRAL! And we have EVERYONE as our “target” market. Everyone get involve if you don’t say who is this for. If they like it, they will find a reason to make it relevant to their lives, they will make themselves “targeted”.

Guess after all, it’s great that I didn’t fill any legal forms to question or require to re-evaluate my professors’ professional skills. Guess after all, my professor looks further than an university assessment, he sees opportunities, he sees us on news and The Morning TV shows, he sees an innovative way for marketers to approach the today world. Books written back in 2006 with updated every year from 2012 are not how you going to join in this world marketing industry and turn it around. Have to be quick to realize and taking in the new. After that, think of a new of your own, thousand of people study the same education system with you, why only few success in the field? Step ahead of them, take the knowledge of the old and quickly silently sneakily implement your new before people smart enough to recognize what you are doing, earn bags of money. When it gets old? You are already on a new one baby.

I know what I want to do now. I want to create the newest compound marketing strategy and tactic to take over market and sales. Marketing can be great. It don’t just stop at those ads and beautiful prints.

You are more than just a team member. You are more than a team leader. You are the industry key player!


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