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Avoid the Herd Mentality – Focus on Who Matters

I recently attended a presentation by Youngme Moon, the Dean at the Harvard Business School who spoke at The Market Research Event (TMRE) conference. She reminded me that brands who have “come out of nowhere” in the past decade have taken a new twist on differentiation by purposefully making themselves irrelevant to segments of the population.

Take IKEA. It continues to steal market share in furniture among certain segments of the population. Ten years ago, would the average consumer in a survey strongly consider a furniture store concept that offers marginal quality, no delivery, limited selection of styles, and do-it-yourself assembly? Not likely. But, IKEA is not for everyone.

This has substantial implications on how we test concepts. Increasingly, it is far more important that we get the right “who” versus the “how many” when evaluating ideas. A phenomenal idea can fall flat if you are not getting feedback from the right people.

Within your industry, break the consumers down into many distinct groups based on demographics, mindset, lifestyle, lifestage, category usage, and more. Start with your institutional knowledge and what you can find through desk research. Then, overlay your competition.

Ask yourself: which of these consumer groups are “owned” by our competitors? Which groups should we address? Which groups are over-served or under-served? During that same exercise, discuss your unique point of view and articulate what makes you irrelevant to the groups you don’t want.

Cater to your unique personas when developing products and brands. When getting feedback on your ideas make sure to only include those personas that matter, and don’t fret over sample size.

Remember: what makes you different should not resonate with everyone. A sizeable business can be realized by appealing to a few.

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