February 12, 2014
Cats Who Want To Be Dogs
Today we'll be chatting about one of my favorite subjects: stupidity.
Typically my stupidity rants center on digital stupidity. But today we'll be talking about good old-fashioned traditional stupidity.
A significant part of what I am doing these days is trying to explain to marketers the silliness of ignoring people over 50 (they are responsible for almost 50% of consumer spending, but are the target for about 5% of advertising.)
A perfect example of this occurs in the automobile industry where the facts and the practices are in complete opposition.
People over 50 buy 62% of all new cars, but are not in any auto maker's media target. Auto makers typically buy 18-49 years-olds or 25-54 year-olds.
In other words, auto sellers direct about 100% of their effort at 38% of the market and about 0% of their effort at 62% of the market.
Even more remarkable are "youth cars" like the Ford Focus, the Toyota Scion, and the Chevy Cruz. These cars are targeted at 18-34 year-olds. And yet 18-34 year-olds buy only 12% of these cars -- 88% are bought by older people.
When I describe this anomaly to marketers and agency people, I often get the following response: "Yeah, but older people want to be like young people."
Now, this may be true -- I doubt it*, but it's possible. But it's irrelevant. Here's why.
Let's say these folks are right and older people want to be just like young people. That is still no reason to target young people. Young people don't buy cars. Showing young people in an ad is one thing, but targeting young people makes no sense at all.
Let's create an analogy.
Let's say we want to sell milk to cats. Cats love milk and they drink 90% of the milk. Dogs don't buy much milk. They only buy 10% of the milk.
But here's the catch: cats want to be like dogs. So the way to convince cats to drink our brand of milk is to tell them that dogs like it. Okay, maybe there's some logic here.
But why would you target dogs? Targeting dogs misses the milk drinkers -- cats. We are confusing message strategy with media strategy. Maybe we need to show dogs drinking our milk in our spots to influence the cats. But in order to influence the cats, the spots need to be seen by cats. Not dogs.
In the same way, even if it is true that older people want to be like young people, the message needs to be seen by the people who buy cars -- older people.
This is not rocket science. It's not even kindergarten science. It's fucking logic and it is completely lost on the dimwits who call themselves marketers.
* This may be the oldest and perhaps dumbest fairy tale about older people. Do older people want to be youthful? Yes. Do they want to be like young people? No. This is a crucial distinction which seems to be completely lost on marketers. People over 50 have their own idea of what it means to be youthful, and I promise you it has nothing whatever to do with Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus or the young, hip doofuses we are bombarded with in advertising.