Oh, Yes: Let's Do Meet The Indulgence-Craving Consumers
There are days when I seem to come up for air and see the marketing world I live in with fresh, and then troubled, eyes. The morning I read a news release about a chocolate company creating a new confection for “consumers who crave indulgence” was one such moment.
I have sat through many such ‘segmentation study reviews’ in which we are encouraged to “Meet Mary: she loves to indulge her passion for XYZ. While not a connoisseur, she enjoys a break in her day…Mary constitute 20 percent of our volume and 25 percent of our revenue, since she is a loyal consumer, unmoved by competitive price promotion: Mary loves XYZ.”
The photo that typically goes with the Indulgent Mary PowerPoint page is one of a 35-something fresh-as-a-daisy, relatively petite woman with a charming smile, a child on her hip and another in tow. Occasionally, we see Mary at work too, in a cubicle speaking kindly to a seated someone.
This is, of course, a bit of a shell game: Indulgence-driven Mary is more typically obese or morbidly so, afraid to bring XYZ into her home because she knows it will wake her up at 3 in the morning begging to be eaten. She dislikes her indulgence (and herself) and yet can’t escape her need for it.
The parallel universe encapsulated in the thumbnail descriptions of her and the attempt to apply a rosy patina to her scarred reality provides us the intellectual alibi we need to develop yet more products for “consumers who crave indulgence.” And, yet, is more indulgence what is needed? Should every craving be met? And, oh-by-the-way, haven’t they been already? Does Mary need one more temptation? Is our business craving for margin worth sating her emotional obsession with promotionally impervious, margin-accretive treats, masking questionable nutritional credentials and an insatiable hunger for meaning?
I wondered about this afresh as I read an open letter from several mayors of cities throughout the globe. They ask us to deal differently with the centrifugal force of looming urbanization epidemics: Non-Communicable Urban Diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and drug use. I wondered about this again as I read a blog reporting that personal use of technology isolates us to the point that loneliness becomes a serious health risk, exacerbating our slouch to a sedentary lifestyle.
Perhaps it’s time to rethink our approach to ‘food borne illnesses,’ if you’ll forgive the re-purposing of the term. The larger question: What can we do to meet Mary's (real) cravings?