Smashing Stereotypes

September 13th, 2010   •   1 comment   

Courtesy of Psychology Today

One of the greatest sins committed by many marketers like myself is this – we like to pigeonhole people into boxes.

From demographics (age, sex, income, education, residential type), psychographics (alternative lifestylers, tech-savvy, adventurous, metro-sexuals), geographic (American, Middle Easterner) to ethnic (Chinese, Indian, Malay, Others), there are always convenient labels for us to understand our target audiences.
There are also generational generalisations of course.

If you’re a Baby Boomer, you’re likely to be hardworking, loyal and unquestioning of your organisation. Gen X-ers are supposed to be embrace greater heterogeneity, with a work ethic that balances sheer hard work with quality of life, while the Millenials (Gen Y) are purported to have a delayed transition into adulthood. Of course, many marketers would also tell you that you need to have a blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter account, Youtube channel and an iPhone app in order to reach teens!

As a parent, I am also acutely aware of the socio-cultural values which are imposed on my kid. For instance, being a boy, he is not supposed to like the colour pink, play with beads, or have a penchant for plushies. However, I refuse to subscribe to such gender stereotypes.

Perhaps the most tired clichés around are those that are racially, politically or religiously motivated (ie the most dangerous). For example, Asians are tech-loving geeks, Christians hate homosexuals, Blacks are great at sports, while Whites love to drink.

Admittedly, it is difficult to rid oneself of the natural tendency to place people into boxes. Many of us are so socially and culturally conditioned over the years that it takes a Herculean effort to veer away from conventional prejudices.

Despite these challenges, it is critical for today’s marketer to learn how to think more independently when looking at our customers. Instead of going with the flow, let us learn how to look for new vistas where individual choices and “outliers” exist.

Examples of such “blue ocean” opportunities include the following:

– Clubs and pubs that cater to folks who have an eclectic taste in music from jazz and hip hop to trance and xinyao

– iPhone apps that are specially tailored for non-English speaking seniors

– Open house days for places of worship, complete with guided tours, to encourage anybody to freely visit

– Dating clubs for empty nesters whose significant others may have passed on

Adopting an unconventional perspective is tough to do. Our instincts honed by years of training and habituation tend to swing us towards the most obvious inclinations. However, breaking away from status quo could be more rewarding and enriching, not only from a business perspective, but a social and personal one.

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One comment

  1. briyan
    posted on Sep 18, 2010 at 5:51 AM

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