Monday, 6 September 2010

The Specific Target Market

So the other day I made contact with the New Zealand branch of a major energy drink company (you can probably guess which one) to say, "Hey, I love your product. Where can I buy some of your merchandise."

They directed me to an online shop, but this was more specialised sports gear of dudes or sports they sponsored. I sent another message saying "Yeah thanks, I saw that, but I was talking more generalised stuff, like t-shirts with the brand on it, that kind of thing."

Then they told me something I was not at all expecting:

"Hi Chris,

Thank you for your email.

Unfortunately only our [promotional] Team Members and branded athletes are allowed to wear the [company's name] logo"

I have to admit, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. It's kind of like a friend you've been hanging out with has turned around and said, "Look. I don't really like you that much, could you not tell people we're friends."

Is such staunch brand control necessary to the extent that you can only allow for certain people such as athletes and superficially attractive promo girls to wear them? Sure I'm not a racing, snowboarding, ice hockey or soccer fan, but I still appreciate the product. Is not a university student more likely to use this product than say, a soccer player? Why not tap that market?

But, the company in question has this very specific idea of what they are about. If just anyone wore their brand, that would detract from how they'd like to be perceived, right? As an active, outdoors and sports aid. Not a stay-up-to-2am-to-finish-that-assignment aid. Which it is most likely used as more often.

It reminds me of an interview with Trent Reznor I read once. He was complaining about people wearing Nine Inch Nails t-shirts when he essentially felt that they weren't cool enough. I don't know. Maybe I'm remembering it wrong. No disrespect to Trent.

But the point is:

Can you influence how you are perceived by only making your brand available to a specific audience?

So yeah, this company doesn't mind taking your money, so long as you only drink their drink, just don't go wearing their brand out in public.

Chances are you just aren't cool enough.

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