“Competition is intense”. “The economy is bad”. “Sales outlook isn’t encouraging”. “My clients don’t even care anymore”. You hear all kinds of things but you can only sum them up in one sentence: the scale of sales is shifting more and more to the left. However, this is hardly true when you consider that humanity, let alone the market, has never before been boxed. Most often there always are areas of hope or options many are not seeing, or are unwilling to take.
The problem with sales in most developing markets is that most businesses are selling products not offering. ‘Product’ and ‘offering’ are two marketing logic with a slim difference but very huge economic impact on the bottom line of businesses and the satisfaction of consumers. Adopting this logic does not exempt any business – whether that business is a local cafeteria or a fortune 500.
This is it: Product meets need; offering satisfies lifestyles and aspiration. Any business can develop products, so long the benefit and cost math is positive. Yet logically fixing products into ‘offering’ requires proactive marketing intelligence to locate areas of sellers and consumers advantage.
Why is fixing products into ‘offering’ more important now than ever?
The economic and social realities of consumers are more and more fragmented presently. Socially, there seems to be cultures, subcultures and extracted culture as a product of global infiltration. Economically, consumer income level range from very restricted to uncontrollably unbound – thanks or no thanks to capitalism. The consequences of these, however, are seen in unusual consumer behaviours and endlessly evolving demography.
Segmenting the market, as have been done by good marketing companies, has not really been able to capture all evolving demography and consumer habits. In this present time, you can’t talk of a youth segment without paying attention to several subsets of that segment with much differentiated response to marketing efforts. Also you can’t talk about the lower class on the economic rung without being drawn to the ‘aspiring’ and ‘the carefree’. The reality of the market is there is no one-suit-fit-all anymore. Businesses must, therefore, ensure the diverse lifestyle and economic rungs in their market are researched and catered to with close attention as well to the economic equation on either side. Selling by segmentation is no longer enticing.
The banking sector in Nigeria is currently being undermined by entrepreneurs endowed with the knowledge of fragmented financing aspiration among consumers. There are publicized non-bank offerings tailored to help savers keep money for yearly rent and more. Facebook is making Youtube less appealing with improving streaming/ video content options that appeal more to fragments, numbering millions who are going to be creating both fun, less serious and serious original contents.
Aside from taking shares away from Youtube, the company will also hit into TV audience and other social network. A Tuna marketer once discovered it was better to sell in single tin or a package of 3 for a round figure and in sub-cartons before sales peak. A consulting firm can strategically fix its billing system or services into differentiated packages; not exempting a dry cleaning firm or a media company. This thinking can be adopted in every sector and businesses by trend-tracking evolving social and economic realities in the market.
Simply said, you are selling an ‘offering’ when you break your products or services into differentiated packages of features, ranges and prices that appeal to different economic realities and consumer lifestyles. Strategically, it makes your business appear less selfish and more appealing to different classes of consumers.
These are 3 approaches to selling offering:
- Dissect Your Customer – Don’t ever think your customers are a crowd or segment. They are people, community, families, sub cultures and extracted culture. A common feature may run through all of them like a thin line, but there are fragmented differences such that among 1000 you have 200s, 100s and 50s having unique shared attributes in terms of taste, income and aspirations.
- Research the Greatest Barrier to Consumption – The phrase, “Why?”, or rather questioning is the biggest word in marketing. Like a pipe, when sales are not peaking or conversion rate is below expectation, a business must try and find out where the greatest and easily removable blocks in the pipe is. The answers often beat imagination. There shouldn’t a final dot to marketing implementation despite initial planning and objectives. Implementation hardly goes according to plan. Therefore, control by questioning why ‘A’ isn’t looking ‘A’ is critical so that review can be carried out to find out the human, technological and economic barriers affecting the business’ sales strategy.
- Break Down Segment – Take for instance, everyone wants milk. But at the end of the day, you discover some want milk with sugar; others want milk with chocolate; some want milk with coffee, some want it dry etc. If you happen to be a milk producer with basic offering, what do you see happening when a competition start producing milk in different range and flavours? Whatever business you do – the answer says it all!