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How to Avoid Customer-Alienating Consumer Marketing Tactics

Gil Haddi
November 8th, 2012
Many companies are trying to diversify and appeal to new demographics through target-specific consumer marketing tactics, several examples of which can be found in Trend Hunter's Marketing Trend Report.

When the sports entertainment brand ESPN decided to expand its customer base, it created eESPNW.com, a website that is supposed to appeal to women. In an effort to make the brand more relatable to women, the site is full of brightly colored images of women in sports, has articles written by women and includes interviews of female athletes. The problem, as Kristi Dosh writes for Forbes in an article regarding ESPN female viewers, is that not only is their current female audience feeling alienated, but the audience being targeted feels patronized. Women who were fans of ESPN from the start feel as though they are being segregated from the male audience and are not getting the same enjoyment from the brand as before. In the meantime, the women who are actually being targeted and were previously indifferent to ESPN, may now have a negative response to the brand as they could view it as sexist. When ESPN created their women-focused site, they didn't mean for it to imply that women can't handle the regular site or that women needed a simplified version, but many critics interpreted it that way.

This controversial result does not necessarily mean that hyper targeting is the wrong way to go about consumer marketing, businesses just have to go about it in a more practical manner. Target the consumers that you know will most benefit from your brand, not the ones that have no interest to begin with. As part of their initiative towards a personalized shopping experience, Kroger Rewards offers frequent customers coupons tailored to their specific needs and each person gets an individual selection of reduced pricing based on their purchase history. This method of customized marketing not only ensures more coupons will actually be used, it also encourages consumers to do their groceries solely at Krogers rather than at any other supermarket, completely undercutting their competition.

If used effectively, people will respond positively to personalized consumer marketing tactics, resulting in increased brand loyalty. However, be aware of marginalizing certain demographics and always keep your current customer base in mind when employing these tactics.