Target Audience or Product.. which comes first?

Last nights episode of The Apprentice was all about biscuits and what I found particularly interesting was the discussions about the product and the target audience.

Bulls Eye
Photo Credit: storem via Compfight

Melody became a bit of a broken record going on about “target audience” but as annoying as she may have been to the project lead and the other team members I think she had a very good point to make and very early on too.

Right from the start the teams knew their biscuits would be luxury products at £1.99 price so that should have generated discussions about target audiences in that price bracket.  The losing team attributed their loss to a naff biscuit which was probably the main lesson to be learned from the show but I have to say that the other messages about target audiences were very good and very relevant.

I often come across business that have a product or service already in place and then it comes to marketing and selling. At this point the businesses have to then think about what audiences best fit their product or service.  This then leads to possibly tweaking a product or service or marketing it in such a way as to maximise appeal through USP’s or perceived benefits.

The Apprentice reversed this by giving the teams the opportunity to think about target audiences and products at the same time.  This involved ideas such as “emergency biscuit” (love it!) and biscuit as the new popcorn.  Brilliant original thinking.  Helen’s team (the winning team) listened to their focus group, clearly defined their target audience, created and branded their product in line with that feedback, and pitched with their target audience in mind.They won by a landslide of around £1.6m orders.

The other team despite Melody’s constant reminders of defined target audience decided their biscuit would be a mass market product. This had a knock on effect with the approach they then took with packaging, and their pitch to the supermarkets. Ultimately they ended up with something confused. A snap and share product where one half was plain and the other chocolate (meaning that someone ended up without any chocolate and a bland half of a biscuit) but also for girls sharing a biscuit during a night in. Their pitch changed as they went along and they didn’t get any orders at all.

So, the moral of the story as I see it are that we all need a great biscuit but just as important we need to know who wants it!

Zoe got fired as Lord Sugar believed she should have made sure the product was great. Fair point.  But, even if the product had been good with the approach they took considering target audiences I still think they would have lost.

I see a lot of “me too” businesses out there currently finding it hard to promote their services in a way that articulates value and benefits and hold on to their price.

A lot of our work is with Accountants and Professional Services and there is a huge risk in these industries (accountancy in particular) to be a Zoe biscuit. What are your thoughts?




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