Niche efforts prevail upon the death of the generic consumer

Despite the increased segmentation of the marketplace, some PR campaigns still seek to reach everyone through their initiatives.

Despite the increased segmentation of the marketplace, some PR campaigns still seek to reach everyone through their initiatives. By “everyone,” most of these campaigns are referring to the generic consumer who was traditionally reached through mass media channels. But this is no longer a viable strategy because it fails to take into account today's consumer and media reality. Moreover, even in the days when mass media channels were thriving, targeting a generic mass of consumers was still an undisciplined and unfocused approach.

The mass media is under-going radical change. They are dealing with dwindling pools of loyal subscribers and some outlets teeter on the brink of closure. Using general media to reach everyone seems more problematic than ever.

Blogs, social networks, and sophisticated market research are making consumer segmentation easier than before. Consumers are divvied up across a fragmented media landscape that draws people to niche outlets. Considering all this, planning a campaign targeting “all consumers” is unrealistic and an inefficient use of resources. Worse, this blanket strategy implies that the effort's organizers don't have clear objectives for what they are trying to accomplish.

For example, consumer groups like “women” or “18- to 34- year-olds” can be broken down still further. Of course, there remain core publications that are fine targets for, say, working mothers or younger consumers. But PR pros need to keep in mind today's savvy consumers. Considering the resources available, many expect to be treated with more complexity than generic age or gender marketing allow.

In the current economy, reaching as many consumers as possible is an enticing proposition. But nearly all products and events have some limits on the number of consumers who will be attracted to them. Be honest about these limitations and drill deeply into those core groups.

Campaigns should tap into core demographics, and later consider building the effort outward as momentum is gained. This allows brand evangelists to develop authentically, not by blasting all consumers with a diluted strategy.

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