“Total Market” – Still Misunderstood By Marketers

I just spent three days at the Multicultural Retail 360 Summit in Anaheim, California where I was invited to MC for a day. A new and fun experience for me! The conference agenda was solid and the speakers were great! But here’s the thing that caught my attention. Total Market is still a misunderstood concept.

As much as Total Market was discussed during the sessions, companies are still confused and speak to multiple definitions of Total Market, and they question its value, purpose and how it should be executed.

Integration, Total Market’s predecessor is a topic I cover extensively in my book, Marketing To Hispanics – A Strategic Approach To Assessing And Planning Your Initiative.

In my book I explain the premise behind integration as taking a company’s stated growth platforms and acknowledging that the company’s highest potential targets vis-à-vis its growth platforms likely include non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, Asians, African American and other ethnicities and nationalities who fit specific consumption, attitudinal and lifestyle profiles given a brand’s positioning.

Stakeholders would then consider these racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds as they think, plan and implement solutions relevantly across every area in the company that plays a role in the creation and production of the products and services, how these products and services are made available in the marketplace, how consumers are serviced pre, during and post purchase across all channels and how the company communicates its offerings – marketing.

Stakeholders would also work to align and coordinate back-end operations which support the delivery of its products and services, including human resources, suppliers, infrastructure, customer service centers, and reporting.

Total Market is no different. And, it is not a concept that only applies to marketing communications, it is a way of doing business which must be applied more broadly to how a company organizes to operate more relevantly.

Total Market does not mean a brand is all things to all people as I heard some folks say in disapproval. It is not about finding the common denominator marketing insight at the expense of more engaging cultural insights as some marketers have adopted it. It is not about creating one size fits all marketing communications that reaches all target consumers in the same way in order to create efficiencies in agency services and production.

Total Market is about creating alignment within an organization so a company’s go-to-market strategy is optimized for relevancy among its target consumers in context with how a target normally interacts with a category and how it fits in targets’ lives.

This type of alignment requires some organizational and operational optimization (yes, change). It also still requires leveraging diverse target insights to plan and implement dedicated marketing efforts based on what is most engaging to each cultural sub-segment under an umbrella consumer target and strategy.

In my view, the concept of Total Market, is meant to advance companies from a homogenous to a global consumer view within our own borders because this is the reality of the U.S. consumer market today. The U.S. consumer market is far from the way it used to be even just 5 years ago.

If companies want growth in today’s increasingly diverse shopper environment, companies must evolve their thinking and approaches. Today, it’s simply counterproductive and unprofitable to think that anything but a Total Market approach will place companies on an accelerated growth path.

Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in helping her clients to dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to also succeed in today’s diverse U.S. market. Terry is the author of Marketing to Hispanics and Strategic Approach to Planning and Implementing Your Initiative and co-author of Grow With America Best Practices in Ethnic Marketing and Merchandising. She is a contributor to a variety of trade publications and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. Terry can be reached at terrysoto@aboutmarketingsolutions.com or 818-842-9688.

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