business news in context, analysis with attitude

There were three stories that we’ve read in the last 24 hours that addressed different aspects of targeted marketing…

  • RIP, Metrosexuals. Long Live Übersexuals.
    MNB yesterday reported on how some department stores were rethinking their marketing approach to men, believing that more aggressive and inventive merchandising – giving men as much in-store attention as is given to women – can help them recapture sales from specialty stores.

    So it was ironic that when thumbing through the New York Times later in the day, we found a small item noting that the term “metrosexual,” used “to categorize straight men who exfoliated, wore Diesel jeans and took longer to get ready than their girlfriends,” has quickly become obsolete.

    According to the authors who originally coined the phrase, metrosexuals risk being "sad sacks who seem incapable of retaining their sense of manhood in postfeminist times.” Their new term of art: "übersexual.”

    Think Bono, George Clooney and Bill Clinton. Think about a man who is strong and resolute, who can “not only change a diaper but…discuss how they feel about it.”

    "Men in my view don't want products that are derivative of female products," says Marian Salzman, co-author with Ira Matathia and Ann
    O'Reilly of "The Future of Men.” "They want things that are male rather than female."

    Salzman tells the Times that übersexuals stand out “as a distinct group, distinguishing themselves by reading Esquire or Sports Illustrated, shopping less but more discriminatingly, and favoring men over women as their closest friends.”

    And most importantly, there is nothing ambiguous about an übersexual’s sexuality.

  • In Praise Of Older Women.
    Advertising Age had a column by Marti Barletta in which she suggests that marketers are missing what she calls “the golden bull's-eye of target marketing” – women between the ages of 50 and 70, who, she writes, are “more educated, active and affluent than any preceding generation of women.”

    “Although individual women ages 50 to 70 may be sexy (think Susan Sarandon and Diane Keaton), some companies think marketing to them is not,” Barletta writes. “It's the trend that isn't trendy. But give it time. Health-care providers, real-estate firms, airlines, hotels, health clubs and financial service companies that continue to focus on the youth segment and ignore this group will see sales and share decrease as this population increases.”

  • Going Forth In Search Of Busy Baby Boom Women.
    Business Week reports on Gap’s efforts to reach women 35 and older with a new concept called Forth & Towne, a place that company president Gary Muto says he wants to be “an environment that was distinctive, a place where you'd feel inspired, a place where you'd want to spend time”…a store, Business Week writes, “so well designed that it would become for busy Baby Boom women a sort of ‘third place,’ a destination other than home or work where people enjoy spending free time.”

    What Gap is doing is betting that women 35 and older will be attracted by the idea of “social shopping, the notion that shopping can be transformed into a pleasurable communal experience,” the magazine writes.

    One other thing. Gap also believes that at Forth & Towne, it was as important how women interacted with the store as with the clothes – which led to an innovative and strategic approach to store design.

KC's View:
At about the same time as we were reading these stories, we got an email from MNB user Linda Ballew-Johnson responding to yesterday’s piece about marketing to men, an email that we thought had perfect pitch in how it addressed our observation that supermarkets ought to market more to men:

    “Kevin, you'll be surprised to learn that supermarkets don't cater to women either. No doubt, you being male, you assumed that since they weren't targeting you, they must be marketing to women.

    “Actually, they are marketing to my house. I am part of a household that 'they' want in their store. I'm neither female nor male. I am 'head of household' (just don't tell my husband).

    “If they were targeting women, they would do things that made shopping easier for woman. They could offer..... complete meal solutions for time strapped days, someone to scan and bag my groceries, carts that are not so deep (some I could actually fall in). I'd love having someone to ask, "I'm having 15 people for...... What ideas do you have?" In other words, I'd like one person to work with me.

    “I will really be cranky if they start marketing to men when they haven't started marketing to women, yet.”

Maybe this is the real problem with how many supermarkets are marketed – management targets households and not people.

If this is accurate, then before retailers start to target specific demographic groups, they first have to target people, and then move on from there.