University of Maryland Extension

Finding Customers-Changing Demographic and Market Research Skills

Ginger S. Myers
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Mastering Marketing - February 2020

Everyone likes to point to “Millennials” as the customer base we must now tailor our products, services, and delivery logistics to satisfy. No doubt, their purchasing preferences have heralded in a demand for more convenience in their shopping options (online verses brick-and-mortar stores), more diversity in their menu selections (nose-to-tail meat options or only plant-based “meat” imitators) and to-their door, in a box, or ready-made meals and kits. Whew, seems hard to keep up with all this change. But wait, enter Generation Z.

This group is just entering their early teens. According to Forbe’s Magazine "Gen Z is already on track to become the largest generation of consumers by the year 2020, and they account for $29 to $143 billion in direct spending. But their impact on the market doesn’t stop there. Ninety-three percent of parents today say their children influence family and household purchases, meaning a significant portion of overall market spend is because of these youths."

So who is your target customer now? Looking at generations, their spending habits and trends can send you down a path to multiple marketing strategies with too many targets to aim at. Remember that you want your marketing initiatives to be activated by the “Ready, Aim, Execute” strategy. Not refining your marketing targets can trap you in a vicious circle of “Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim” confusion.

So don’t ignore the “Generations” and their buying preferences but, look to the consumer who is proselytizing about anything. What is in their pantries, what production methods do they embrace, what are their health concerns, how can your “story” speak to their preferences and aspirations? This audience is bigger than just chefs. It includes folks that are “beyond Foodies”. This consumer audience is cross-generational.

We need to listen to these progressive consumers. Addressing their preferences and concerns will help producers speak with authenticity about how they grow, process, and package their products. In the past we called this relationship marketing. It’s a great marketing strategy to embrace as we develop new niche consumer audiences.

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