Marketing Strategy: Segmenting Consumer GoodsBuilding a successful marketing strategy is hard because it combines quantitative knowledge and skills with experience and intuition — a blend of art and science.

Developing your marketing strategy based on what your competitors are doing means you’re competing in the red ocean (full of blood from the dead bodies of those who didn’t survive swimming with sharks).  Developing marketing strategy by the seat of your pants means you make a lot of bad decisions that lack cohesiveness.   Developing marketing strategy leading to long-term success requires swimming in the blue oceans, where competition allows fish to live and grow, while bounding that strategy with sound scientific marketing principles.

Segmenting Consumer Goods

One way to think about options when building your marketing strategy is to segment products into groups.  The reason this works is that consumers inherently use different processes when making consumption decisions for different types of goods.

Marketers generally divide consumer goods into 4 groups — convenience goods, shopping goods, specialty goods, and unsought products.  An important aspect of planning marketing strategy based on type of consumer good is to recognize that not all consumers classify the same product the same way.  Hence, you still need to figure out how YOUR target market classifies your product.

Let’s take a look at how you might form a strategy around each type of consumer good.  Today we’ll talk about convenience goods.

Convenience goods

Convenience goods are purchased frequently, often without conscious decision-making.  Examples include products such as toothpaste, gum, canned beans, bread, etc. These products are generally inexpensive and widely available.  Convenience goods involve little risk since they’re not tied to our definition of self or represent a potential danger.  Consumers aren’t really involved with convenience brands.

Strategy for convenience goods – make them available anywhere consumers might look for them. Consumers don’t have a lot of loyalty to convenience brands so if they’re not readily available, consumers substitute pretty readily.

Coke’s strategy relies on being available in the most “points of thirst” possible – vending machines everywhere, fountains, cans, bottles …. in grocery stores, convenience stores, in gyms, in hotels, on streets … You get the idea.

Your advertising goal should be awareness and creating good feelings about your product.  Cute jingles, colorful packaging, product placement on store shelves, all these strategies likely impact success.  Developing arguments for your brand won’t work very well since consumers don’t think about buying these products.

Taste testing works well with convenience goods — again because consumers are easily convinced to switch brands.

Social Media for Convenience Goods

Social media is an effective way to market many goods and services.  However, a different social media strategy is necessary with convenience goods because consumers don’t really want to engage with convenient goods brands.  That doesn’t mean you can’t use social media to market convenient goods.

Instead, build engagement with the people who manage the brand.  Or create engagement with the marketing — with contests, discounts, and sponsorships the brand uses.  Or link the brand with a cause important to the target market.

This marketing strategy worked well for Dove.  Consumers don’t get excited about drugstore lotions.  Instead, they built engagement using “the campaign for real beauty”, celebrating the real shapes of women and building self-esteem for girls and women.  This cause is something their target market could embrace and wanted to share with their social network.

What’s Next

Next we’ll talk about marketing strategies related to the other 3 consumer goods types — shopping goods, specialty goods, and unsought goods.

Meanwhile, if you have comments or examples you want to share, please share them here.