Park-life: An unusual place for a lesson in branding
posted by Stephen Wong ~ 19/03/13
Category: Marketing
Tags: Branding
Recently one morning my day started pretty much like every other day. However something I witnessed while walking in my local park got me thinking.

The other morning I got up and took the dog for a walk. On this one particular day, two observations I made while in the park prompted me think about what branding means in today’s world of consumers. 

The first was while I was standing in the queue to buy a coffee from the park’s café. Directly in front of me was a woman. In marketing terms she was 45-50, of English background, low to middle income, and either unemployed/retired or taking the day off. Nothing strange there. But upon closer inspection I read the back of her t-shirt, in small letters it read “free Tibet”, she was also wearing shorts and Tevas. But what really took me by surprise were the headphones she had slung around her neck. Beats by Dr. Dre.

Now I appreciate good sound quality as ­much as the next person, and obviously as much as her, because these cans cost over $300. The fact that they’re endorsed by a Gangsta Rapper didn’t come into her purchase consideration matrix. The fact that the brand has as much in common with her as deep fried chicken and the health department, didn’t seem to bother her a bit. Branding eh?

I question whether our friend in the coffee queue even made it into psycho/eco/demographic research of the marketing team responsible for the Beats by Dr. Dre brand.

The second instance occurred just around the corner when two cyclists passed me on the path. Two very brightly coloured uber cool fixies whizzed passed, again nothing strange, in fact very expected in these parts of Sydney. The strange thing was, they were peddled by a portly 40-45 year old man and a similar aged woman. Again, not what I think the marketing or brand agency had in mind when they were considering their strategies.

The point I’m really making is, sometimes in the world of consumer market and advertising we like to quantify and qualify our market too quickly. Sure it makes our jobs easier to define target markets into manageable boxes, but are we missing out on a wider market?

Maybe if we thought of the individuals that purchase goods and services not as consumers, but rather with the approach, how does the good or service better their lives?

Now if you apply that to our two examples from the park, it all starts to make sense. Our audiophile with the Dr. Dre headphones overrode all brand messaging. Despite the Gangsta rapper connection she wanted quality headphones that suited her requirements. As for the two on the fixies? Well, perhaps they just wanted fun, low maintenance bicycles at an affordable price. 

Perhaps we need to take a step back from our spreadsheets and look at the world in a more organic way. Maybe even get outside and take a walk in the park. You never know, you might see a new opportunity or new market segment right on your doorstep. 

Stephen Wong heads up Creative and Strategy at Cumming Agency + Studios.

Further reading: 

I’m not your consumer: How research misses the human behind the demographic. Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing. 
By Douglas Van Praet
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