Buyer profiles: Can they be altered?

Posted by Oliver Koll on Jul 25, 2019

Brands have skewed success profiles for different sociodemographic groups for various reasons: The positioning of the brand within the category, the set of retailers where it is available or specific brand benefits are more appealing to certain segments than others. Also, a limited marketing budget may result in limited distribution or niche communication, both resulting in higher relative sales to certain parts of the population.

To understand these profiles better, we looked at the penetration of more than 6,000 brands across many markets in four different lifestages (large families as well as small families that are young, middle-aged and old) and allocated each lifestage to being weak (<0.8 index vs brand’s overall share of buyers), strong (>1.2 index) or normal. Some findings:

  1. For 63 % of the brands the lifestage where they reach the most buyers is the same in 2017 as it was in 2011; for 69% of the brands the lifestage where they reach the least buyers is also the same in both years. Brand buyer profiles appear quite sticky.
  2. Between 2011 and 2017 the average brand is almost twice as likely to grow its penetration in lifestages with weak performance in 2011 than for lifestages with strong performance in 2011.
  3. Winning brands gain in all lifestages, but on average more in their weak areas. Losing brands lose in all lifestages, but on average more in their strong areas. So, on average we do find a regression towards the mean, irrespective of the brand’s growth trajectory.

The frequently-mentioned suggestion that brands should aim to appeal to everyone may apply for most brands but may not be feasible (given resource constraints or the specific make-up of the brand). However, validating this suggestion by pointing out that large brands have less distinct sociodemographic profiles mixes cause and effect. The larger a brand gets the less skewed its profile must be. It’s a result, not a cause of being large.

Do you want to learn more about brands that have changed their profiles, whether and how this has contributed to growth and how this differs between larger and smaller brands – give us a call or send an email.