Segmentation and sustainable product marketing

18 Apr 2010|Kelli Peterson

The business of good-for-the-earth products suffers from, among many things, a general belief that they are in fact good but typically too expensive and not really something that fits “my needs”. When thinking about how new products can be marketed to a population not quite ready to accept perceived drastic change, a recent study by McKinsey gives us insights into how other products might re-consider their marketing by walking through a case study on the electric car.

Consumers are looking for good value. McKinsey suggests that global auto manufacturers think beyond a car that satisfies many driving needs in order to appeal to the greatest number of people. Given the cost of building energy storage, it makes sense that electric car makers explore designing vehicles scaled to the need of specific driving missions.

If we think about the car buying market, the great majority of consumers have very specific driving patterns that don’t change drastically throughout the life of their individual auto ownership. In fact, life stages very often trigger new car buying opportunities which will better fit with their foreseeable driving needs. The 57 million strong mature population is considered the fastest growing population and alone is divided up into three unique segments including Working Mature, Young Retirees and the Elderly. While this may or may not be a primary opportunity, thinking about stability and forecasted driving needs has tremendous potential when thinking about the driving behaviors associated with electric cars.

Shorter distances require less battery storage and thus less cost invested in the manufacturing of the car. These cars then have the ability to be marketed with specific consumer needs in mind and with a price tag that appeals to the pragmatic car buyer. This moves the consumer decision from a purely eco-decision to simply a logical choice and creates an opportunity for Brand X automaker to deliver this product in the spirit of its own brand values with a consumer-forward message instead of an environment-first message.

We are collectively working towards new behaviors, products and ways of doing business that will preserve our earth. Trusted brands have an opportunity here to deliver smart solutions that will meet consumers’ everyday needs via their current capabilities. Re-thinking the manufacturing and design of products gives brands new opportunities to stay relevant and provide solutions that leverage budgetary constraints (higher petroleum costs) and align with an emerging marketplace concern (protecting our resources). Using segmentation to re-think and re-calculate needs of the market may provide valuable insights and yield break-through ideas.

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