Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I'm a Demographic

Sesame Street, and the associated Muppets who practically raised me, taught me that one of the most important things I can do is just be myself.
As I matured, I came to appreciate the fact that "be" is not an active verb, really. There is no associated action with "being one's self". It just happens, without effort (something I embrace) and following one's interests and beliefs leads organically to this Muppet-endorsed feeling of selfness.
As someone who has always revered individuality, I tend to notice when someone misses the target when trying to market to me.
When I watch TV, I absolutely love seeing commercials for things which I would never, ever purchase because it indicates to me that I'm watching a program that highly-compensated marketing types were certain I wouldn't.
Sure, a lot of my limited TV time is spent watching feminine hygiene commercials or advertisements for bizarre and painful looking kitchen gadgets, but I've managed to prove someone wrong by being myself -- and watching TV is about as close to completely inactive "being" as a conscious person can get.
But lately, mostly when crossing open areas, I feel a tickle on the back of my neck. I become convinced that there is the red dot of a targeting laser tracking my movements. Companies seem to almost desperately want me to buy stuff from them, and the economy is only making that worse as their desperation mounts.
Trying to cram me into the thirty-something paranoid-about-retirement crowd is ineffective.
Lumping me in with the sports-fanatic gang hanging out at Hooter's on Tuesday nights is also going to be a waste of precious marketing dollars.
If some company decides that my demographic is accident-prone and that my carpet needs a Shamwow they would be sorely disappointed at the number I've purchased.
The result of these wasted marketing dollars is an on-going effort at re-categorization. My people have found themselves targeted as "Gamers" -- Aged 22-40, predominately male, spending a majority of entertainment dollars away from television and cinema.
This is why there was a Doom movie.
This is why complicated computer peripherals can serve a single purpose and cost hundreds of dollars.
This is why Dorito flavors and Mountain Dew have become increasingly "extreme".
First, I'd like to apologize for all of those things on behalf of my community. Second, QQ more, newb.
The most horrifying example I've found is from Gillette. It seems my month-and-change of not shaving at the beginning of the year has caused them to re-work their Fusion line of strangely-vibrating razors.
One of the branches is called the "Fusion Gamer" edition.
Somehow, Gamer skin is different than regular skin and it requires a special razor.
To completely disclose how close to home this is, I actually currently use a Fusion razor. Sometimes more than once a week.
The blades (which cost a small fortune) are replaced once per quarter whether they need it or not.
But is there enough of a distinction in my skin to merit the purchase of a gamer-specific shaving device?
I looked over the website to examine the features.
There is no mention of gamer skin that I can find at all.
The qualities of gamer skin should be the focus of any razor ad campaign which targets it, but it really looks to be exactly like the Fusion I already own.
If the copy had mentioned "unique blade designed to comfort skin untouched by the glaring light of the hateful sun" I'd have been moved to purchase, certainly.
If it had mentioned that it "catches stray hairs which grow outside the beard-zone for no good reason" or that it "soothes skin irritated by conventional razors back to its naturally rubbery, grub-like texture" I'd have dropped whatever I was doing to head to the store to buy one. And by "head to the store" I mean "log in to my Amazon account" and by "buy one" I mean "add to my cart and flail over trying to hit the $25 minimum for free shipping".
The point I'm trying to make is that if they want to market to gamers, calling the same razor the "Gamer Edition" doesn't cut it when selling to a crowd more comfortable with Google searching than reading Consumer Reports.
Unless they make the colors a lot more extreme than they currently are, I'm probably sticking with my regular old over-priced vibrating nine-bladed razor.

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