The cover story of this special International Home + Housewares Show edition of HomeWorld Business (March 14 issue) examines the altered consumer landscape of the 21st Century America, and, ultimately, how that has altered the path to success for the housewares industry.
Generational shifts, ethnic diversity, technological revolution, urban renewal, fiscal caution, health consciousness, environmental sensitivity and more have converged to shake up the reliably general living patterns upon which mass marketing has thrived.
The industry doesn’t simply need a remedial lesson on how to niche market to diverse segments. The methodology is becoming much more intricate than that.
In a retailing era of instant, unfiltered consumer feedback and influence, the volatile interconnectivity of all these demographic, psychographic, technological, cultural and lifestyle factors makes it difficult to lock into consumers and trends. Instead of homogenizing the market for more predictable, long-term planning, it is actually individualizing consumers and creating scenarios where marketing opportunities are born and die on a seemingly daily basis.
Welcome to a new era of precision marketing, where the bulls-eye seems to move with increasing frequency.
It has never been more vital for marketers and merchandisers to pinpoint consumer segments, their preferences and the optimum timing to sell them.
There are many previously unavailable resources to provide a virtually microscopic view of the market. New market research, point-of-sale technologies, e-commerce and mobile technologies can track and (attempt to) predict consumer actions right down to each shopper’s fingertips.
The data may be abundant. The most successful marketers, however, will be those that can access the information and adapt to it with unprecedented developmental, supply and marketing dexterity.
Given these challenges, perhaps a play-it-safe approach is understandable. Manufacturers and merchants may reason that a one-size-fits-all approach to development and marketing manages risk more efficiently.
That won’t hit the mark consistently, though, in this diverse, new 21st Century America, where individual consumers expect what they want, how they want it, where they want it and when they want it.
Consumers want choice. And marketers now face a choice.
Some might downplay, for example, all the talk about Millennials by arguing they don’t possess nearly the spending muscle or intent of their Baby Boomer parents. However, favoring one generation or any market segment at the expense of another— and without considering how the groups influence each other— could be a huge misstep.
The bulls-eye, in reality, isn’t moving at all. There are numerous marketing bulls-eyes along today’s American landscape. The aim should be to hit as many as possible.