Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Depth vs. Breadth vs. Value

After some recent conversations I thought I would jot down some thoughts on how different companies position their brands through the way they target their audience.
I have recently been involved in a number of conversations regarding breadth marketing, essentially this means going for more customers over a wider range of vertical markets. On the other hand depth marketing means targeting a small number of (often already known) customers and spending more time making sure they are incredibly happy with your product.
Given a limited amount of resources (every company in the world has its limits, just some are bigger limits than others) the breadth approach means a lower level of engagement per customer than a depth approach.
The question in my mind is how does the approach taken to marketing impact on the perceived value of the brand.
and can making the right choice of approach combined with a price point help a brand become more successful.
The question about perceived value seems like it might be a no-brainer. Yet the question might be better asked this way; in order to be successful does the marketing approach effect the perceived value or does the product value determine the marketing approach ?
Surely an approach that encourages a deeper level of customer engagement will increase the perceived value. Take for example the custom built super car industry. Here the customer is cherished and their hand is held through each step of making choices about the car, including fittings and extras. This is clearly a high value product and nearly always perceived as high value brand; you don’t go to Citroen in order to get a customer super car built, you go to Ferrari or Lamborghini. Yet we could flip this on its head and say that because this is such a high value product it dictates that the customers be given a better service. If you look at it this way it would then suggest that the higher the value of the product the deeper you would want your customer engagement. I also wonder if deciding to position your product for a breadth marketing campaign actually lowers the perceived value of your product. The more people that use your product the less exclusive they feel.
Some products are clearly well positioned for breadth-marketing examples include; soft drinks such as Coke or Pepsi, consumer electronics such as iPods or televisions, and mainstream movies such as Spiderman or Harry Potter. These are all low value products and have mass-market appeal, or so their producers would like us to believe.
Lets focus on technology for a moment and consider the entire experience, not just hardware and not just software, but the end-to-end experience. Clearly Apple has a lot of passion in this space, they have built a strong brand on the user experience of their products. Yet the Apple products are themselves not that expensive and are certainly targeting the mass-market space. Apple is clearly going for breadth marketing, and it seems to be working out pretty well for them. Microsoft has done well in this space with Xbox and recently incredibly well with Kinect, again a low value, consumer focused device with mass-market appeal.
So why all this pontificating?
Recently I have come across a few products that are clearly high value propositions, not targeting consumers but rather specific verticals and small numbers of clients (in the big scheme of things) and yet they are taking a breadth marketing approach. They are twittering like crazy, putting their products to be touched by consumers that will never be able to afford the products and trying to drive what appears to be a consumer facing marketing campaign for a non-consumer device. To me this seems like a mistake and yet maybe they will prove me wrong.
Time will tell.

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