OKAY so what do the Easter Bunny, the Honest Politician and the Upscale Bride Have in Common?
ANSWER: In spite of our most optimistic desires, none of them really exists.
Yeah, I telegraphed that one, didn’t I? (Did I rush it? I feel like I rushed it, a little.)
Okay… then let’s get to the point. Why are “upscale brides” in that list, in the first place? If they don’t really exist, why are there hundreds (thousands?) of books, classes, workshops and advisors that are enticing you with how to find, attract, pitch and sell to them? Maybe it’s the same reason we keep electing the same “old white guys” to public office and expecting different results – wishful thinking. Alas, as we keep discovering every election cycle, and after spending lots of money and time on workshops, books and “good advice” – wishing does not make it so.
IMHO, the confusion about the concept of Upscale Brides is centered in the increasingly inaccurate belief that we can categorize the behavior of people by evaluating their age, education, location, income levels, etc. These points of data are referred to as “demographics” and have been at the center of 99% of all marketing theory and execution for a century or more. Here’s the thing…
Demographics don’t work. Never really have.
So, why does every professional marketeer use them, if they don’t work? You can blame that on a psychological bias known as “anchoring.” (This is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions.) When we don’t have clear data that helps us understand the behavior of the market, we use the information we have, which is usually just the easily-compiled demographic data, even if it is totally invalid for our purpose.
I call this the “Big Lie.”
Now, those of us who aren’t satisfied with the Big Lie, i.e. using demographics as a key indicator for behavior, are often forced to compile social data (stories, examples and anecdotes) to reach our own analytical conclusions. For me, this is why and how I initially derived the philosophical concept of Specialism over 20 years ago. The goal of this type of social research is the need to add behavioral metrics to our analysis, i.e. how people “act” rather than simply who they “are.”
FYI, the reason that social science analysis is so much harder to determine is because the data points on behavior must be gathered over long periods of time and across large, geographically and culturally diverse groups of people. This takes a lot of patience and resources. By comparison, the Big Lie of demographics are much simpler to compile since its just existing “poll” data about geography, ethnicity, education, income, etc. which is dramatically easier to collect. Hence, the anchoring bias lets us believe more strongly in demographics (because it is easily available) than social and behavioral science analysis (more scarce and harder to get) even though we know, intellectually-speaking, it doesn’t really mean much, in the context of marketing.
I know… human minds are staggeringly irrational. Which is even more a reason to ignore the Big Lie.
Luckily, there have been LOTS of social and behavioral research going on over the last few decades and this has created an insight into WHY consumers act a certain way under certain circumstance – regardless of how irrational that behavior may seem – with increasing scientific accuracy. There are many studies and books dedicated to this emerging view of “predictably irrational,” with the best being written by Dan Ariely. More recently, there was a very broad study conducted by Roy Morgan Research, one of the world’s oldest and largest consumer research firms, that included 10-years of behavioral data spread over a million consumers in 3 continents. The findings of this study makes a pretty unassailable argument demonstrating the power of social and behavioral analysis, while effectively killing off any any remaining value of demographics. Much of what I’ll present here comes from that data and study.
Okay, so back to the Upscale Bride. Why am I stating that she simply doesn’t “exist?” In part, because the concept of an “upscale” anything is rooted in demographics. In this case, that REALLY doesn’t work. Just because they have money to spend, doesn’t mean they are actually open to spending it. And, it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll want to spend it on YOU.
That brings us to two questions: 1) How do you know what peeps will spend their money on? 2) How do you use that information to make your business more successful? To answer the second, we must understand the first.
How do we know what people will spend their money on? To know this, we have to understand that people, like businesses, fall into behavioral categories. On the conservative side, there are Bargainers, who buy based on status (brand), features and price. Collectively, these factors are called The Deal. The Bargainer’s goal is to find “a deal too good to pass up” and that is often the only way to get any of their money. Bargainers represent 52% of the buyers in the market, but only 23% of discretionary spending – i.e. weddings and portraits – and only 4% of them are considered “big spenders” in their self-described behavior.
Alternately, we have the Explorers and Exclusives, collectively I call them The “Xs”, who spend money on things that are a reflection of their distinctive values, primarily based on authenticity, discovery and individuality. Xs represent 48% of the population, while being responsible for 77% of discretionary spending! Better yet, a whopping 92% of them describe themselves as “big spenders.” The best news of all – they absolutely dominate every age category under 50. The Xs are the emerging market category and it is believed that within 10 years, they will dominate every area of business. (Yes, it’s okay to jump up and clap at this news.)
For most of you, The Xs are your best target… not the demographically “upscale” of anything.
Armed with that knowledge, how do you attract the X consumers to your business? First, it helps to know that THEY are a lot like YOU. In the book, “113 Million Markets of One”, the authors share analysis that show The Xs are four times as likely to be entrepreneurs as Bargainers. Further, they state that “they are not attracted to conspicuous consumption (status brands) and have a highly individualized view of the world, looking to express their own values through what they buy, what they do, and who they do it with.” Sound familiar? There are some really strong brand identities out there focusing VERY successfully on The Xs, including Lululemon, Mini Cooper, Anthropologie and, of course, Apple. Do you consider those “brands” representative of you? If so, you are an X consumer.
Knowing that The Xs are looking for authentic businesses who reinforce what they stand for by spending their money with them, the easy answer to attracting them is to do the same. Build a business that stands for something authentic, be able to express it simply and with genuine passion and connect with them on a very personal level. This is certainly easier said, than done – but it is actually at the core of success as a Specialism business. As a business coach and consultant, my solution for the last 2 decades has been to create a business strategy that focuses on YOU and what makes you unique. I do this through a four-step process of business development known as the Team X Method. A key part of that process is being able to define yourself, and your unique values, in Three Perfect Words. Once defined, these become the center of your business “brand” and connecting with The X consumers gets increasingly effortless… just like being authentically YOU is effortless. You heard right… by creating an authentic business brand, successful marketing to “big spenders” is easy. (Caveat: Getting to that point is where the heavy lifting comes in.)
The conclusion is that Being You is not only “enough” when it comes to how you feel about yourself – it is increasingly essential if you wish to be part of tomorrow’s successful entrepreneurs. Moreover, your business needs to reflect that, as well.
If you wish to get a deeper understanding of the differences between Exclusives, Explorers and Bargainer consumers, and how to create the Three Perfect Words that can change everything for you, I have placed recorded webinars online (http://Specialism.tv) that will fill in many of the details of this analysis and the science behind it. And, if you wish to pursue this Specialism model for your own business, visit TeamX.Academy, where you can join any number of classes, to better understand and take advantage of Specialism for your 2015 business success.