Though the world of business and marketing is ever-evolving, there’s a term that has gained ubiquitous usage. It is a phrase that rolls off the tongues of entrepreneurs, marketers and business strategists without a second thought. Yet, when we pause to reflect on its implications, a disquieting truth emerges – the term “target market” has subtly stripped away the very essence of humanity, reducing individuals to mere statistics on a spreadsheet.
“Target market” – it may seem innocuous, just a string of words woven together. But beneath its innocuous façade lies a powerful assertion of how we view and interact with consumers. It’s a term that suggests a transactional approach, an almost clinical dissection of human beings into categories and subcategories. While it may serve as a convenient shorthand in the realm of marketing, it raises the question: Is this truly how we perceive people?
Imagine walking into a room filled with friends, family and colleagues. Instead of seeing faces, personalities and stories, you see nothing but a sea of data points – age, gender, income, preferences, etc., etc., etc. Unsettling, isn’t it? Yet, this is the lens through which the term “target market” encourages us to view our audience. It transforms individuals into mere avatars, stripping away their humanity and relegating them to a numerical equation.
The implications of this shift are far-reaching. It disconnects us from the emotional undercurrents that drive consumer ( Consumer – I would like to understand & address this word on a separate day ) choices. It downplays the nuances that make each individual unique – their dreams, fears, aspirations. By painting with broad strokes, we risk alienating the very people we seek to engage.
Language, as a powerful tool, shapes our perceptions and beliefs. The term “target market” resonates with a militaristic connotation, conjuring images of crosshairs and precision strikes. It reduces the consumer experience to a cold, calculated manoeuvre devoid of empathy. The implicit message? We are aiming to capture, to conquer, to control.
But at what cost? We risk eroding the trust and goodwill that underpin lasting relationships. We trade genuine connections for fleeting transactions. We compromise the authenticity that drives meaningful interactions in favour of sterile strategies.
Back in 2010, a brand named Derby Clothing in Chennai, India, understood the impact of this shift in language. We helped them transition from addressing themselves as a clothing brand to becoming Derby Jeans Community. This transformation wasn’t merely cosmetic. It signified a profound change in perspective.
By adopting “community,” Derby Jeans acknowledged that their customers were not just consumers but participants in a shared experience. This small change in wording encapsulated a shift in mindset- recognising the vital role customers play in shaping the brand’s identity. The result? A brand that resonates on a deeper level with its customers fostering a sense of belonging and loyalty.
Imagine if we all shifted our perspective from “target market” to “community.” The very word “community” evokes a sense of belonging, of shared values and experiences. It paints a picture of individuals who come together not as faceless entities but as real people with real stories. It emphasises relationships over transactions and fosters an environment where understanding and collaboration thrive.
A community-based approach urges us to empathise with the diverse composition of humanity. It invites us to listen, to engage, to co-create. It embodies the very essence of what business and marketing should be – a genuine, two-way exchange that enriches lives and empowers individuals.
Words matter more than ever in a world teeming with jargon and buzzwords. As an integral part of these brands and businesses, we have a responsibility to choose our words wisely. The shift from “target market” to “community” thinking isn’t merely a linguistic adjustment. It is a paradigm shift that heralds a new era of conscious capitalism.
Imagine if, instead of addressing a faceless market, you engaged with a community of individuals whose voices are heard, whose needs are acknowledged and whose stories are valued. Imagine if, in the pursuit of profit, we didn’t compromise on our shared humanity.
It’s time to heed the call for change, to reshape the language we use in business and marketing. The term “target market” has run its course and it is time to replace it with a more nuanced and empathetic alternative. Let us embark on a journey to reclaim the humanity that lies at the heart of every transaction, to build bridges of understanding that transcend mere transactions.
Let us remember that every purchase isn’t just a statistic – it’s a choice made by a person, a choice influenced by their beliefs, aspirations and values.
- Kal Kalim for XPLAINED
- August 22nd, 2023
XPLAINED is our initiative to share, collaborate, learn and communicate with absolute transparency. The author, Kal Kalim, is a Melbourne based fashion photographer, brand strategist and communication designer who has worked with fashion and lifestyle brands in Europe, Asia and Australia over the last two decades. He believes in the power of authenticity, creativity, originality, kindness and purpose. Purposeful and meaningful communication is at the core of every campaign or collaboration that he likes being a part of. Kal especially loves working with brands & businesses that strengthen local communities and are inspiring the next generation of creators, designers, thinkers and entrepreneurs to be authentic, creative & kind.
Kal also manages an educational & learning-style beauty pageant & modelling academy called ASOTY ( Australian Supermodel of the Year ). ASOTY is focused on helping girls discover their inner beauty and the true supermodel within them. And prepare them for the fashion and beauty industry through relevant coaching & ongoing mentoring. A similar program for men was initiated in India too during the pandemic. CDMTM ( Clothes Don’t Maketh The Man ) is world’s first hybrid program focused on coaching and grooming men towards becoming a better version of themselves.
Kal loves travelling, and collaborating with people who want to make this world a better place through their word, walk and work.