Select the right target audience to increase advertising effectiveness

When the managers of Caltex walked into our offices and started talking about their high value customers, we thought they were talking about people who drive gas guzzling four-wheel-drives and luxury sedans. We discovered, on the contrary, that their high value customers are people who spend most of their time driving including taxi drivers, bus drivers and lorry drivers. They may not own the vehicles, but they are the main influencers for the brands used to run and maintain them, and they oversee the fuelling, oil changes, regular service and repairs. This segment is the biggest contributor to the bottom line of the downstream oil companies in the country. We therefore developed the advertising strategy targeting that group and significantly increased the sales of Caltex Delo engine oil by appealing to them through a campaign hinged on a major prize promotion.

One of the bigger challenges that brand marketing in Kenya faces today is the inability to properly define target audiences. When I ask marketing executives to describe their target groups, they tend to include every living soul in the country; trying to be all things to all men as it were. A lack of understanding of your target market is costly and wasteful, and any marketing communications plan without consumer insights will yield weak results at best. There are several ways that you can categorise your customers and the most popular method globally is the socio-economic segmentation which is used to measure and classify people based on social grade and income.

A number of years ago it was noted that this system was not suitable for Africa because in our social strata, the variations within each group can be extremely large, making the occupational element of the classification system irrelevant. The highest earning teachers for example, are in a completely different income group from the lowest earning teachers and many similar examples exist within staff grades in Kenya. We therefore prefer to use the Living Standard Measure which focuses on the affluence of the people and is based on criteria including the degree of urbanisation and ownership of property and domestic appliances. In Kenya our LSMs consist of 17 groups where LSM 1 is the poorest and LSM 17 is the wealthiest. The LSM data is used for both developmental and commercial purposes.

However, a segmentation method primarily used for selling brands is the Y&R Cross Cultural Consumer Characterisation, or 4Cs. It classifies people into seven distinct groups separated by their motivations in life and is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The seven are as follows; the Explorer who is motivated by discovery; the Aspirer, driven by status; the Succeeder whose core need is control; the Reformer who seeks enlightenment; the Mainstream who wants security; the Struggler who seeks escape; and finally the Resigned whose aim is survival. By understanding their core motivations in life and what they look for in brands, we are able to develop advertising that is attractive to each group. While the Succeeder buys the best because he believes he deserves it, the Mainstream’s life choices is ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ and goes for big established brands and value for money, and the Struggler will bet on the lottery to move up in life.

If you develop and build your brand based on an understanding of your target audience you will succeed. For example, in the mid-nineties when Bidco discovered changes to purchase behaviour around the food, household and personal care categories, they introduced their brands in smaller packs. In contrast, their competitors were adamant about supplying larger packs which would allow consumers, through economies of scale, to get more for less; a strategy that worked perfectly in the West. Bidco’s packaging strategy accounted for the market potential that lay in the masses who earn daily wages and buy domestic provisions on a daily basis. The results were crystal clear when Bidco’s Chipsy and Golden Fry rose from nowhere and Unilever’s Kimbo, the category leader, fell from grace into oblivion. Eventually Bidco bought the Kimbo brand from Unilever for a song. While Bidco chose to derive the untapped value from the Struggler, their competitors fought for the marketshare of the Mainstream.

In business as in life you can’t be all things to all men. You have to be selective if you want to cut through the clutter, engage your high value customers, and encourage brand loyalty. It is critical to understand your target groups living standards, their core motivations, their purchasing habits and their media preferences so that you can present your brands to them in a way that is appealing and encourages them to support your brand.


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