In a traditional society, a person, class, tribe, village or family helps in determining what that individual buys and uses, but in a modern society, we are free to select the set of products, services and activities that define us and which in turn, creates a social identity, we communicate to others. Our choice of goods and services indeed makes a statement about who we are and about the type of people we want to be identified with and those we wish to avoid.
This way of life which we call a lifestyle, defines a pattern of consumption that reflects a person’s choice on how to spend his or her time and money. In marketing, it is discovered that people sort themselves into groups on the basis of the things they like to do, how they like to spend their leisure time and how they choose to spend their disposable income. These finely tuned choices in turn create opportunities for market segmentation strategies that recognize the potency of a consumer’s chosen lifestyle in determining both the types of products purchased and the specific brands most likely to appeal to a certain lifestyle segment. For example, the popularity of social networking websites on the internet like facebook and twitter has created other lifestyle marketing opportunities for many businesses, organizations and individuals. These social networking websites are trend setters for the latest gossip in town and breaking news on events on politics, entertainment, sports and the economy.
People’s tastes and preferences evolve with time. In fact, you might laugh about the type of clothes we used to were 5 to 10 years ago. Were did our parents find those high heeled shoes and bongo shaped trousers they used to wear back in the 1970’s? Because people’s attitudes regarding physical fitness, social activism, sex roles for men and women, the importance of home life and family, and so on do change, it is vital for small business people to continually monitor the social landscape to try to anticipate where these changes will lead.
We can get a clearer picture of how people use products to define lifestyles when we see how they make choices in a variety of product categories. A lifestyle marketing perspective implies that we must look at patterns of behavior to understand consumers. As one study noted, “All goods carry meaning, but none by itself. . . .the meaning is in the relations between all the goods.” Indeed, many products and services do seem to “go together,” usually because the same types of people tend to select them. In many cases, products do not seem to “make sense” if they are unaccompanied by companion products (e.g., fast food and paper plates or a suit and tie) or are incompatible in the presence of others (e.g.,a luxury chair in a one room office).
Therefore, it is important that small business people should identify those set of products and services that consumers seem to link together into a specific lifestyle. It has been proven that relatively unattractive products become more appealing when consumers link it with other, liked products. They can team up with other small business people to pursue co-branding strategies that would promote their products and services. For example, GSM line providers with smart phones makers, T-shirt designers with jean trouser designers, bed sheets/pillow sleeves makers with pillow and bed makers etc.
It is also useful for a small business owner to develop products that appeal to different lifestyle groups, when he knows that a person’s income doesn’t determine what type of product they would buy. A small business owner then needs to be creative in identifying, understanding, and targeting different customers that would share a set of preferences for their products and services.
This type of marketing is called psychographics, which is a market research or statistics that classifies population groups according to the decisions they make about a product, person or ideology. Psychographics can help a small business owner to fine-tune his offerings to meet the needs of different segments in the market. It is possible to identify distinct psychographic segments even for products like soup, because it is easy to notice that different types of people prefer different varieties of the same product. Demographics allows us to describe who buys, but psycographics tells us why they do.
Psychographic marketing can help you do the following;
– define your target market,
– create a new view of your market,
– position your product,
– communicate the attributes of your products to your customers,
– develop an overall strategy,
– market social and political issues.
They way we do business has changed. Modern technology has helped in developing new products and services that meets the different needs of all types of people. So small business people need to do everything they can to be the market leaders and they can do this by monitoring the changing desires and needs of their target market. When they learn this, they can then offer inspiring new products and services to their customers.
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