Not a Target Market

There’s been a lot of discussion in my MBA Marketing course about how to manipulate…er…I mean “serve” consumers’ needs. It’s kind of interesting, but I’m not sure I believe in the theories being discussed. For example, one of the tenets of marketing is that a high price can be used to create the impression that a product is luxurious or of superior quality. Maybe it’s just the Scot in me, but from my point of view the fact that something costs more only implies to me that I’ll have less money left over when I buy it, nothing more.

Walking around downtown today, I started trying to put what I’d learned into action. Who, exactly, was the target market for that $200 pair of Nikes? And what was it about that product that would make anyone pay that amount of money? What need did that store on Robson, the one that sells only magnets, fill for a consumer? When I couldn’t figure it out, my wife pointed out that I wasn’t the target market, hence I couldn’t easily understand the motivation for the target market’s need for the product in question. And then I realized something.

I am no one’s target market.

That’s pretty weird. This has got to seriously piss off the marketing people. After all, I’m a 25 to 35 year old professional! I’m supposed to be a prime candidate for buying clothing, music, car, home stereo and other assorted bric-a-brac. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s not that I don’t buy anything, it’s just that I resist buying everything except for the essentials most of the time. I just don’t really see much purpose in a lot of the distractions that people buy, choosing instead to focus my attention on other things. I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I’m not very representative of the general population. But am I really that abnormal?

I guess I must be, at least from marketers’ perspective.


The secret to most professions is knowing the language, or so they say. Sure enough, the business language is slowly creeping into my brain like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and my typically geeky vocabulary is slowly being replaced with BusinessSpeak. Value Chain. Net Present Value. Key Success Factors. Hell, I even used the word “synergy” the other day without so much as cracking a mischievous grin. The business world has gotten a hold of one of my legs and is slowly slurping its way up my body. Eep.

It’s insidious, and what’s worse is I’m starting to suspect it might be an intentional part of the program. Business terminology? I was just going to wear a tie and collect a six-figure check before retiring on the backs of my employees’ pension fund. Nobody told I had to speak like them, too! That wasn’t part of the deal!

And language is only the first step. Soon, you start to think like them.

Every week, we analyze a business case in a vain attempt to cram our views on a particular business’ woes into 600 words, an exercise that really improves your ability to focus blindly on numbers and the blatantly obvious. It’s amazing how quickly you forget to suggest simple things like, “Hey, maybe we should ask the guys who actually run the manufacturing plant for input.” No time for that, just look at the numbers! They must prove everything!

I swear, my hair is getting pointier by the day.