Last week, I got a mail from change.org about a petition that was started by Ms Geeta J, who is in her mid-50s. This petition is really something that the entire marketing fraternity must read and be a part of.
The ‘grown-ups’ are not the primary audience for most categories. That really is a tragedy as they are the ones who have their wallets full and are looking at spending money. From automobiles to watches to yogurts, the grown-ups are not the target audience. Yes, we do speak with them as parents or grandparents, because we want them to buy for their families. We sometimes use them in story-telling, because we find them cute or persuasive. Like a cottage cheese brand is using a grown-up female celebrity to push packaged cottage cheese as something that you should buy for your family!
Let me bring Ms Geeta back here and what she is saying. I was searching for a nice lacy lingerie set and activewear on India’s biggest online lingerie store. Although the collection is undoubtedly great, I noticed that all the models showcasing them were most probably in their 20s or 30s. This made me wonder why some clothes are restricted to an age bracket. Why can’t women above the age of 40 years be at the forefront also, wearing what they like? This is a key question and I suspect the men and women in their 40s and 50s are asking this question.
A BIG VALUE MARKET
India has a very large youth market. The under-30 market is massive and brands for years have been engaging this market. There is another fact, though, the 30-50-year-old demographic market is bigger than the youth market, bigger not in numbers, bigger in value. One of the largest consumer markets in India is the automobile market; this market has been so focused on youth that they have ignored the whole middle market. Yes, they engage the middle market, they engage them as fathers, mothers or in rare cases as grandchildren. The automobile industry refuses to see them as individual customers who buy wheels for self-use, self-indulgence and self-fulfilment. From high-end professional cameras to indulgent cosmetics to luxury laptop bags, we have ignored the whole middle consumer markets. For every slim-fit shirt that the young fashionable young male buys, 10 are bought by ‘regular’ fit, middle market consumers, and yet the brands have almost abandoned the prosperous, money to spend middle market.
TIME TO MAKE AMENDS
The over-dependence on social media to search for consumption patterns and look at emerging pop culture nuances has also aided this miss. The middle market doesn’t consume cosmetics to arrest ageing, doesn’t travel to exotic locations to post vacation selfies, doesn’t buy insurance to secure only the children’s future. They travel to exotic locations to jump off a plane, click wildebeests migration, see the Victoria Falls, cruise by the Amazon river and soak in the Northern Lights. And while the expensive scotch whisky brands have been leveraging this market, they are just a rare outlier.
When Ms Geeta J says that she is looking at racy lingerie for self-indulgence and will like to see brands catering more to her, I suspect the brand managers must be looking at an opportunity they have been ignoring. It’s time we looked at this market and discovered how it can change the fortune of brands.
(The author is Co-founder and CSO, Bang in the Middle)