Marketing to the majority

Most marketing is focused on the biggest portion of the market, because most marketers believe that if you fill the biggest need, or market to the largest mass, the upsides are greater.

Today, in the US, it’s a holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unlike most American holidays that are just rituals, not rememberances (how much time do you spend thinking about Christopher Columbus?…), this holiday is fresh enough that it’s worth thinking about what it means.

Here’s a crux of the matter, at least from a marketing (not moral) standpoint: if you recognize a minority group, if you treat them not as an other but as a peer, and if you solve their problem, they will notice you, do business with you and remember you.

Not "minority" in the racial sense, necessarily, but in terms of any group that feels overlooked, or disrespected, or underserved.

I live less than a mile from the home of the first black millionaire in America. Madame CJ Walker practically  invented the idea of franchising… by creating a chain of beauty salons for black women at a time when no one else could be bothered.

PRESS BRIEFING BY LARRY SPEAKES (Press Secretary for Ronald Reagan)

October 15, 1982

The Briefing Room

12:45pm EDT

Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement ≠ the
Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and
have over 600 cases?


Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as "gay plague."
(Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in
every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the
President is aware of it?

MR. SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter.)

Before deciding that a market (left-handed people, Mac users, people who speak Spanish) isn’t worth the effort, it might be worth a moment’s reflection. Sometimes, a purple cow is just purple because it’s best at serving a nascent market. And it doesn’t matter if you’re marketing a political campaign, a non-profit or a soap.

I feel a little trivial talking about soap and computers in the same post that I mention civil rights and AIDS. But they’re all branches on one tree. It’s very easy to get caught up in rationalizing on behalf of the majority–but it’s not always smart, and not always fair and not always right.