Is it time to stop narrowly defining our target consumer?
In my opinion, absolutely.
Let's talk about your target consumer.
For most new brands, a pivotal part of defining who they are and what they stand for as a company is to identify their 'target consumer', or put another way, the shopper most likely to buy their products or services. In addition to understanding who this shopper is (and is not), this exercise usually involves categorizing these consumers into distinct tiers (young or mature, student or CEO, etc.), what she's into (other brands she uses, her favorite technology, magazines she reads, fashion brands she wears, cars she drives, etc.), and perhaps most importantly, how your brand can fit into all of these categories and your desired consumer's lifestyle.
I can understand where targeting a consumer or audience makes sense for a professional services firm or other business that provides a distinct offering. But for a beauty or skincare brand? Making products that could, conceivably, be for just about any woman or man who is looking for the type of product you've created? I think the effort spent identifying a 'target consumer' is an outdated way to approach consumers and how they are seeking out beauty products and services. And I'll tell you why.
When I was a young woman just out of college, I worked in retail on the cosmetics sales floor at a large department store. The lines we sold were mostly the tried and true brands: Lancôme, Lauder, Clinique...and consumers very much shopped these brands along age lines. Younger girls bee-lined for Clinique; more mature women spent their time with Estee or Chanel. Plus, at that time, I could count on one hand the number of friends I had or girls my age I saw on the street sporting Louis Vuitton handbags, wearing Michael Kors shoes, or rocking Tiffany jewelry.
Today, that's all changed. Look around your favorite Starbucks the next time you stop in for a coffee, or check out who is standing next to you at Sephora. Chances are, you are going to see a whole slew of young women sporting any number of expensive, designer goods that most likely, were initially targeted to an entirely different consumer. Or, you'll see a forty-something woman wearing a gorgeous array of bright, shiny, glittery makeup--makeup most of us might consider too young for anyone but a Millennial or teenager. In other words: you will see consumers who are rewriting the rules on which products are 'for them', and which are not. And it has nothing to do with any brand having identified them as the target consumer.
When it comes to beauty, I think most consumers consider themselves 'right' for your brand. Whether you have created a sleeping mask loaded with anti-aging actives and skin refining acids meant to help soften the visible signs of aging on the skin (signs that only show up with age) or the glitteriest, most unicorn-iest shimmer eyeshadow palette ever, who is to say which consumer is going to identify your product as for her, and become a loyal brand advocate? It might not be as likely that a 40-something will buy the shimmery eye shadows, or a 21 year old the anti-aging sleeping mask, but then again...in today's beauty world, who's to say?
Rather than worrying about making one particular consumer group your target audience, maybe it makes more sense to focus on creating the best brand story, the most compelling messaging, and the most engaging social media content that will persuasively 'speak' to beauty consumers overall? Ok, so with this approach you likely won't capture each and every consumer that comes into contact with your brand...but you wouldn't do that anyway, even if you created a targeted consumer profile. By creating content that speaks to all beauty consumers, you are increasing your chances of capturing a new audience, and you aren't leaving any consumer out of the conversation. And given how consumers approach shopping for beauty in 2018, that can only be a good thing.