Mar 27, 2009

FUBU Marketing

Remember that iconic hip hop clothing brand from the late 1990’s? For Us Bu Us that’s what it stands for. Having being in advertising and being a keen scholar of marketing, I’m convinced there’s a need for FUBU marketing, not as a theory but as a basic application of the fundamental view that one has to be in touch with a specific target market (preferably a part of it) in order to be in a position to market products aimed at that particular target group.

Today we have a situation where people that are not in touch with a particular market yet they are trusted to be custodians of a brand/product that these “custodians” are not in touch with and have no bearing whatsoever on the brand/products’ target market. More and more they are caught out of their depth and found wanting all the time, henceforth they often rely on feeble methods of research to help them light the way in an effort to understand that particular market, often this ends ups in misleading conclusion about psychographics and behavioural patterns regarding the target market subject.

If you ask then, how does FUBU marketing fits on this picture? The core fundamentals of FUBU is that only people that have a grass root level understanding of a target market, should be appointed sole custodians of products aimed at that market. For example, irrespective of their claimed understanding of a market, you can’t task a 25 year old Blackman to market a product aimed at white females going through menopause and experiencing hot-flushes every five minutes. In the same breath you can’t task a white male going through mid-life crisis to be brand custodian for a product aimed at black youth in the township. All needed to be done is to reverse the situation and bang!!! We have a winning formula.

On the second paragraph I highlighted the use of feeble methods of research as a guide to chaperone those found wanting and eagerly trying to understand a market they can’t relate to. What baffles me is that these people they use these methods of research and they have the nerve to proclaim themselves gurus and professors of the target market in question. But what exactly do I mean by feeble research methods?

By feeble research methods I’m referring to the likes of AMPS and SAARF research methodology but in this case I’m more concerned with the use of “focus groups” as a method to measure a target market’s psychographic behavioural patterns. I question the use of focus groups purely based on the fact that 10 out of 10 times they’ll tell you what you want to hear instead of the real TRUTH out there, this is largely blamed on the current set-ups used to conduct focus groups. As a result the use of focus groups, the self-proclaimed guru will fail to pick up the negative perceptions that are associated with the brand they are trusted to be custodians of.

Now you may ask “ja we hear you but what’s the solution”? Here’s a solution. Say I work for SAB and I’m a custodian for Black Label. Because on the grass root level I interact daily with consumers of the brand in question, I know their perception on the brand both negative and positive and these perceptions are organic perception not some third party “fact” that was induce by paying someone to sit in a “focus group” and starving them until they say only positive things about the brand. The solution is hire people that are organically in touch with your target market and can be used as brand custodian purely not only because they understand that market but because they live that target market.

In conclusion I often compare the use of focus groups to animals in captivity and those in the wild. If you want to know how a gorilla react when you say “khukhu Khakha”, say Khukhu Khakha to a Gorilla at Jo’burg Zoo and the same thing to a gorilla from the Congo forest. The reaction from the Congo forest gorilla will give you an organic reaction of what happens when you say


Miss-informed said...

If we truly believe that marketing is a science and not just airy-fairy ideas that people come up with after smoking weed, we have to depend on the professionalism of each marketer. The fact that I live in a township actually limits my ability to discern because I will base all decisions on my limited experiences (in my township), but if marketing truly is a science, then the processes and strategies used to reach our decision-making should enable you to tap into your target market without being part of it. The assumption that only those who are part of a group can communicate with it is like saying that only black people can 'really' speak Zulu. A white person can learn the language and apply it in appropriate settings if they put the time and effort into it.
My belief is actually that the most effective marketing tactics are based on human truths, take international campaigns like Axe & Heineken. Their messages are universal and their ads are endearing to people all over the world. That is brilliance!

Anonymous said...

Good point there Miss informed!! However, I believe that The Chosen 1 is not saying that fire the marketing 'scientist'and employ the 'zulu from the township' but ATLEAST work with someone who's part of the target market. Sure the possibility that the 'scientist' can EVENTUALLY learn with time exists, but wasting client's budget in the interim is not really a solution because the marketer is still 'learning'. Yes some brands have international messages but you will notice that AXE (with added 'what what') went the RELEVANT route to expand to the black market. Plus some brand's target market is generic males who like beer, so one does not have to be specific about the message, males and beer are not a tough topic, but BLACK MALES and BLACK LABEL require more insight which, as the chosen 1 has said, needs the target market to be involved beyond focus groups and SAARF. Brilliance is indeed a universal language, FUBU marketing = relevance!!