Retailers and Niche Markets: Speaking Their Language


What about Faith Driven Consumers? 

Gary Chapman has been very successful with his book, The Five Love Languages, which lays out different ways to understand and express love for others. He suggests that every person has a “love language” spoken through their words and actions. Successful relationships depend on each party learning to speak the language of their counterpart – showing that they understand the other and are willing to take the time to appeal to them on their terms.

In the same way Chapman encourages his readers to learn the “love language” of important people in their lives, retailers seek to speak the languages of their diverse customer bases in an effort to appeal to them on a personal level.

While there may be five “love languages” in personal relationships, there are as many “consumer languages” as there are niche segments. Hipsters, students, urban, rural, sports fans, fashionistas, Tweens, Seniors, Millennials, Gen Yers, Boomers, middle class, stay-at-home moms, LGBT, African-American, and Hispanic are some of the segments brands routinely engage.

However, having a conversation with Hispanics is more than running TV commercials in Spanish. Speaking a language fluently means intimately understanding each consumer group’s worldview and what its collective concerns, traditions, values and needs are.

Retailers spend big money figuring out how to best engage and integrate with their target audiences. Here, brands segment their markets to make their advertising budgets more efficient – creating new consumer niches based on various metrics like gender, lifestyle, age, geography, and many other distinguishable characteristics that influence how people make choices. For example,  the top 500 advertisers in 2010 allocated on average 5 percentof their budget to target the Hispanic market segment. And retailers spent $17 billion alone on the Tween market segment.

As brands target diverse niches, they learn how to speak new languages and become more effective in communicating messages that resonate. During the 2012 London Olympics, Procter and Gamble invested heavily in its “Raising an Olympian” campaign,  which celebrated the Herculean job mothers do in raising children who become Olympians. In addition to TV ads, P&G rolled out a comprehensive campaign across social media platforms and partnered with websites like Yahoo to promote its content.

While Tweens, Latinos and moms are important segments based on their demographics and purchasing power, Faith Driven Consumers are a numerically large, economically powerful and rapidly emerging segment that is actively seeking brands that will respect and welcome them. However, few retailers have yet to invest in or engage this untapped, but highly loyal, niche.

What percentage of your budget is dedicated to engage the Faith Driven Consumer market?

Perhaps this is because brands simply don’t know that the 46 million Americans who are Faith Driven Consumers spend $2 trillion annually. Or maybe it’s because retailers don’t know how to speak the “love language” of this highly distinct subset of the broader Christian market. Perhaps they even fear that articulating a resonant message to this audience may alienate other segments.

Over the coming weeks this blog will explore how brands can enter into a conversation with the 15 percent of the population that are Faith Driven Consumers – and learn to speak their “love language” fluently.

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