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Business Advice

Zoom in, and boom!

Take a shot at success by aiming to better know your target audience and mine the opportunities available to you
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - January 25, 2011
By: Sheila Lim
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Zoom in, and boom!

If you seeking fresh business opportunities, market segmentation strategies could help you identify consumer groups that are most likely to purchase specific goods and services, influence their spending habits and garner the desired response from your intended audience in the most cost-effective ways.

To effectively tap largely unexplored market segments, such as baby boomers and single-person/small households, marketers have to probe and learn more about their target consumers’ characteristics, attitudes, values, behaviour, consumption habits and concerns, and be creative in meeting their needs.

Target a market with huge growth potential

Marketers have pursued baby boomers since they were adolescents. Today, they continue to be an important target market; and they are the reason why health- and beauty-related industries have seen unprecedented growth over the past decade.

To accommodate the needs of ageing baby boomers, scientists have been continually developing products, from robotic domestic helpers and stair-climbing and walking contraptions, to stem cells and “replacement body parts” like artificial limbs; while governments are developing infrastructure and economic schemes to help baby boomers be better off – physically and economically – in their twilight years.

However, very few commercial concerns are keen to cater to the needs of these consumers because of the impression that their spending power is diminished. But don’t forget – unlike their parents who led impoverished lives after the World Wars, baby boomers are generally better educated and more financially independent, and thus possess greater purchasing power.

Let’s take a look at how this market segment can be better served:

  • Those experiencing the “empty nest syndrome” can afford the time to travel, pursue their favourite hobbies or pastimes, and learn new skills. Thus they are a potential market for a plethora of leisure activities that are less physically demanding and more socially engaging, such as specialised travel packages, and art and IT programmes.
  • As they become less physically able and deteriorate in health, products and services that can facilitate their daily needs and improve their health and general well-being will be what they need most.

Those in the food, health and fitness business can capitalise on the wealth of marketing opportunities available to them by offering products and services, or creating programmes, to suit the needs of middle-aged and senior citizens. For example, restaurants could include smaller and healthier meals on their menus, and fitness clubs could design low-impact exercise classes for them.

  • An emerging trend is the growing number of wheelchair-bound people in our midst. All of us will become physically weaker and less mobile with advancing age; when that happens, we will need certain products and services to improve our quality of life. This is where small businesses come in – they can start a revival of old-time services like the home delivery services that neighbourhood provision shops used to provide, or cater affordable transport services exclusively to the elderly, to ferry them to places within their housing estates or to hospital. 

Be single-minded about meeting needs

The Census of Population 2010 that has just been released by the Singapore Department of Statistics shows that the proportion of young singles and families with one or no children is on the rise.

This is hardly surprising – in recent years, it has been a prevailing trend in many modern societies around the world. Typical reasons attributing to these social phenomena are our never-ending quest for material wealth, which means an exceedingly stressful lifestyle with little time and energy left outside of work, the rising cost of living, and living-space constraints because of overcrowding.

Besides the rise in the proportion of singles and smaller-sized families, other trends like the increasing number of elderly people opting to live on their own rather than with their children, and the expanding population of foreign workers and students have also attributed to the growth of small households.

These trends are significant to marketers as they present a huge pool of untapped business opportunities:

  • Households with one or two persons do not consume as much food as larger ones. They prefer to buy food such as eggs and bread in smaller portions so that the food and their money do not go to waste. Perhaps bread and egg suppliers could collaborate to retail half a dozen eggs and half a loaf of bread in a single package? Such ideas may also help towards easing the problems of food shortages and escalating food prices!   
  • People belonging to single-person or smaller households usually do not bother to cook. However, eating out frequently is not only costly but unhealthy. Some of my health-conscious friends and I avoid eating out as much as possible, as we have the impression that hawker food is not only lacking in nutritional value but contains unhealthy ingredients as well.

Besides making the effort to change consumers’ perceptions about the quality of their cooked food, perhaps food vendors could provide alternatives like pre-packed assortments of uncooked meat/fish and vegetables, soup stocks and gravies that can be taken home and turned into meals in a jiffy.

  • Though agencies offering dating, “friendship” and matchmaking services are on the rise, many people still harbour inhibitions about using their services. Those who are enterprising enough could offer more creative social networking concepts that allow the young, young-at-heart and old, or even parent-and-child groups, to interact in more comfortable environments within which relationships can be gradually nurtured.

Remember, ideas that may seem silly or impracticable at first could germinate into a thriving business. And though there are always bugbears and risks in treading new ground, the pay-offs could be immense! 

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