You’d be amazed by what you can learn about direct marketing in your neighborhood grocery store, or even under your kitchen sink.
Take, for example, oh I don’t know… pest control products? Your relationship with said items may not be as intimate as mine was when I lived in a tiny studio apartment in a Hell’s Kitchen walk-up, but back then I didn’t appreciate what I could learn from my tiny 6-legged roommates.
Most of us prefer not to live in close proximity to pests of any kind, six legs or fewer. But the infamous periplaneta americana, the American Cockroach, is probably at the bottom of the list of desirable co-habitants, just above Paris Hilton and Jeffrey Dahmer.
But here’s the interesting part. As much as these critters are universally reviled, the methods by which we consumers choose to eliminate them are completely different — and an outstanding example of the value of good customer targeting and segmentation. Hunh?
I submit to you the following example: A Cockroach Case Study
Products A & B are both very effective solutions for eliminating household pests. They sit right next to each other on most store shelves, and they are about the same price. What they do is practically intuitive and identical in terms of result: They kill cockroaches.
And yet they are so completely different – not just in their mechanism but in their marketing—that if you believe in the laws of segmentation, you can bet the farm that members of one segment would never buy the product intended for members of the second. Let me explain.
Studies show that buyers of pest control products self-direct into two distinctly different groups.
First—Segment A—are folks like me, who take a very Rambo-like approach to any insect problem. We are part of the segment called “Cockroach Commandos”. We will engage any means necessary to eliminate them from of our consciousness no matter what path of destruction (or CFCs) we leave in our wake. We want their death with extreme prejudice. Want proof. We want bodies. We want it known that we are in charge of this situation. And some of us might get a little secret satisfaction knowing that our chosen method of elimination is so lethal it’s not really safe to have pets around. It’s a nasty business, this pest control.
We buy Product A. It’s called Raid. And it “Kills Bugs Dead”.
Then there are the rest of you. You are non-violent by nature. Perhaps even a little non-confrontational. You belong to a segment identified as Pest Control Pacifists. You may think you have the same reaction to roaches that we Cockroach Commandos have, but you really don’t. You’re too sensitive. You simply want the little buggers to go away quietly. You don’t want to see them, think about them, you certainly want no role in their demise. Or in the resultant clean-up. You just want a quiet and danger-free solution that allows you to pretend that they were never a problem in the first place.
You buy Product B. It’s called the Roach Motel, where “Roaches Check In but they Don’t Check Out.”
No mess, no lingering smell, no need to put Fluffy in the back yard for a few hours. You just put the little motel out of sight, in the dark for a few days, then, later, pick it up and throw it away. You don’t even have to look at their forlorn little carapaces as they writhe in throes of death while they suffocate in noxious glue, their tiny screams too small to be heard by the human ear.
A few years ago, the Roach Motel packaging featured a little cartoon of Mr. and Mrs. Roach on the side (she was the one with long eyelashes and a fancy hat, he carried the suitcase) while the Raid can had a drawing of a gender-neutral roach lying belly-up on the front of the label, dead as a doornail with eyes X’ed out and swollen tongue hanging out of his mouth. Need I say more?
The lesson in Targeting and Segmentation is that if the fine folks at Roach Motel spent time marketing their product to the Cockroach Commandos among us, they were probably wasting their money. And I wager that people who are not inclined toward violence, mess and danger are not so likely to buy Raid no matter how much they dislike insects. So if you can save half your budget by not marketing to people whose profile suggests they’ll never buy your product in the first place, you can be a marketing hero.
Remember, there’s a good reason that the words “kill” or “dead” appear about ten times on the Raid can. It's so people like me will buy it. And if just one of those nasty buggers rears its ugly head in the vicinity of my home or family, he’s going down. With prejudice. Roach Motel is for wimps.
Note to HR: I am a non-violent person. I am not a threat to myself, my co-workers or my immediate surroundings.