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Published 07 June 2012 04:08, Updated 08 June 2012 13:19
Rev it up ... The army of Porsche-driving women is proof that clever businesses can crack open markets many thought were unassailable.
Ten years ago, hardly any women bought Porsches. Now they make up 20 per cent of sales. Last year women bought 270 of the 1350 German luxury vehicles sold in Australia and for Porsche this success story has been about taking its product and making it attractive to a new demographic.
“It’s been less about deliberately marketing to target women drivers,” Porsche general manager John Murray says. “As we’ve moved away from a pure sports car brand and the range has diversified, the models are inherently more attractive to a wider audience.”
For more than 30 years Porsche manufactured one vehicle; the Carrera 911, a two-door quintessential sports car, that retails for about $300,000. “Traditionally, we were a man’s domain and for most people the Porsche brand was embodied in the 911 model,” Murray says.
The introduction of the luxury four-wheel-drive SUV, the Cayenne, in 2003 proved the catalyst for tapping into a broader group of drivers.
“The Cayenne changed the dynamic,” Murray says. “That was a conscious decision to attract new buyers who couldn’t ordinarily buy a sports car either because of the price or [because they needed] greater space for their family.”
The Cayenne is the lowest price point for a Porsche at $122,000 and is now the company’s biggest selling vehicle in Australia. It appeals to families that want the utility of a bigger car and Murray says that despite Porsche being late to the SUV party, it has gained traction.
“It’s brought us a whole new set of buyers because it drives like a Porsche but has great utility,” says Murray. “Last year 60 per cent of the cars we sold here were the Cayenne.”
Finding a new demographic to buy your product is business nirvana. The Porsche example shows that an advertising campaign is only one aspect of marketing; the product itself is what has the power to create the market in the first place.
Businesses often target new markets or a different demographic; cosmetics houses were once fixated only with women whereas men’s products are now a core product; insurance companies now tailor products and campaigns specifically for women and super funds are seeking to communicate with young Australians about the importance of their investment.
The founder of Marketing Is UsAnne Sorenson says it is possible to successfully reach out to a new audience if there is genuine demand for it. “Your success will very much depend on your product or service,” Sorenson says. “Will it satisfy a need? You might have a great idea and think it’s perfect for a younger person, for example, but unless you test it and really understand how and why it meets their needs there might not be a market.”
In December 2011, Lego introduced a new line of products designed to appeal to girls called Lego Friends. Lego faced a huge backlash from consumers who were unimpressed with the gender stereotyping Lego Friends appeared to perpetuate. A petition on the website Change.org within a month of the product line’s release garnered 55,000 signatures from consumers who wanted the company to market its existing products to girls.
Representatives from Lego met with the petition leaders and released a statement that appeased the market. “We want to correct any misinterpretation that Lego Friends is our only offering for girls,” a spokesperson said. “We know that many girls love to build and play with the Lego products already available.”
Sorenson says that situation can be avoided by undertaking sufficient research during product development. “You need to talk to the market you’re targeting,” she says.
“You can’t say, ‘Oh I think this is great for a certain customer’ without talking to them and understanding if and why it is.”
A need to gather information about older women prompted marketer Jane Waterhouse to team up with entertainer Wendy Harmer last year to publish a website, The Hoopla, to engage that audience. “We very specifically target women 35 and over,” Waterhouse says. “Sometimes women are portrayed as being a homogenous group which isn’t true.”
There was a time when wrapping a product or branding it in pink was considered enough to pique a woman’s attention but that no longer cuts through. “It’s just not that simple,” Waterhouse says. “A mother of teenagers who is going through menopause has a very different head space to an older mother with really young children.”
When targeting a particular demographic it is also useful to think about how to reach out to them. The general manager of prevention strategy at WorkSafe Victoria, Bernie Dean, undertook research to gather information about construction workers. “As a workplace safety regulator we want to achieve behavioural change so that workers make it home at the end of the day,” Dean says. “Construction workers are engaged in some of the riskiest work around so they’re a very important audience for us.”
However, given the nature of their work, they are constantly on the move and rarely, if ever, in an office. “We realised we had to change the way we tried to reach them,” Dean says. “We had to engage them rather than expecting them to engage with us.”
After doing research, it was clear that mobile devices were the best way to talk to their chosen demographic. “Have you ever seen a tradie without a mobile?” Dean says. “They all have them and we found that for every person who saw one of our hard copy documents or posters, 100 tried to access us through digital means.”
Last month WorkSafe launched the Top Tradie quiz to engage tradespeople as well as to deliver safety messages. “On building sites during breaks, a lot of them do a daily quiz from the newspapers,” Dean says. “We’ve taken that concept and use the topics we found out they enjoy – sports and general knowledge – and include questions about safety to educate, too.”
Tradies can participate in teams online or through their phones and Dean says, as incongruent as it seems for a safety regulator, the prizes are not protective gear.
“A lot of tradies are into extreme sport experiences so the prizes are in that territory rather than a new helmet,” Dean says.
In March last year, Australian Unity Health Insurance embarked upon a different marketing strategy. Women are the primary decision makers when choosing private health insurance but general manager of marketing, sales and products, Natalie Vogel, wanted to target women aged 25 to 39 with a new message.
“From our research, we discovered that private health insurance is perceived as not being value for money,” she says. “It’s a grudge purchase and it’s over-complicated. She set out to reposition the brand and health insurance itself. We needed a new face for our health fund and we needed a tactical approach to target women aged between 25 and 39.
“We wanted to reverse consumers’ indifference, steal customers and create a niche to directly appeal to what consumers want by challenging negative feelings about this category.”
In February, 2011 a fictional 29-year-old blogger “Zoe” came to life online and through television with the message that health insurance can be simple and useful.
“Through her blog, ‘Simple. Useful.’, we showcase daily events and craft the message about what we had identified in the research was important for women between 25 and 39,” Vogel says.
It resonated. The following month, women buyers aged 26 to 30 increased by 150 per cent and women aged 31-35 jumped by 173 per cent from same month the previous year.
With the right research and approach it is possible to enter a whole new market.