How can one brand appeal to different segments?

By 17th May 2013blog
fly and balancing

At a recent workshop in Kuala Lumpur an Executive who overseas strategy at a global brand posed an interesting question her firm had been wrestling with:

“How can one brand appeal to different segments?”

The brand in question primarily targets females (especially Mums) with domestic ‘products’.  The brand architecture is complex so for the purposes of this post a single brand will be focused on to illustrate the point.

To address this challenge issues of ‘alignment’ and ‘balance’ need to be considered.  People do things with brands to say things about themselves. This means brand and target market segment personalities need to be aligned (to some extent). If they’re not they’ll be like ships passing in the night as the brand will hold little self expressive value for the target market.  It’s also crucial the brand’s personality acts as an emotional common denominator that appeals to all the target segments.  However, facets of the brand personality need to be emphasised in certain contexts and at certain moments in time. This helps ‘fine tune’ the brand’s appeal to certain segments.  So how does this work in reality?

Let’s say the brand’s personality is caring, dependable, domesticated, ambitious and informed. For the most part these are characteristics most Mums could identify with or relate to at certain points in their life. The caring and dependable “traits” could act as emotional common denominators that transcend the target segments. They have uniform emotional resonance that Mum’s align with. Which Mum wouldn’t want to be caring and buy a brand they can depend on?

The “First Time Mums” segment may feel the need to show they can take on this role via being domesticated. They need to show they’re domesticated and not just a “party girl” or “career lady”. The domesticated facet of the brand’s personality enables them to do this. They will identify with the core traits (caring / dependable) but also with being domesticated at that point in their life. In this sense the brand takes on symbolic role and helps First Time Mum’s communicate their desired role. The brand becomes an expressive device.

The “Career Mums” segment still feel the need to show they care and want a brand they can depend on. However, the focus may move from a need to demonstrate they’re domesticated to being ambitious and informed (even canny or astute) for selecting the brand. This segment doesn’t identify with domestication. That’s not their core symbolic need. A brand that is caring, dependable yet ambitious and informed meets their needs.

The key issues relates to alignment and balance. It is important the brand does not alienate a given segment when consumers move from one stage of their life to the next i.e. First Time Mum to Career Mum. This is achieved via the emotional pull of the common personality traits i.e. caring and dependable. Brand insight that reveals segments psychographics can help identify core values.


P&G sends a clear and emotional message to Mums during the 2012 Olympics.

Proctor & Gamble, as a master brand, executes this strategy with aplomb. It sells a number of domestic brands that appeal to different Mum’s at different stages of their life. This strategy was reinforced by their Olympic campaign as proud sponsors of Mums which had strong caring and paternal undertones.

Dove is another powerful brand that understands the importance of alignment and balance. They have taken a feminine and gentle brand into the male market by tapping into emotions of love, security and being comfortable in your own skin. Appealing personality traits?

Dove. A canny brands that transcends segments.

Dove. A canny brand whose appeal transcends segments by tapping into human truths.

If the target segments’ emotional connection is too distant from the core brand personality creating sub brands e.g. BMW 1 Series or new brands e.g. Toyota and Lexus may be the option. Interestingly this may lie at the heart of Apple’s issues. Does the cool California Kid really want the same brand as the Dancing Dad? You can’t be all things to all people and so alignment and balance are key.

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Do you have any other examples of brands’ whose appeal has been carefully crafted so it is attractive to different segments? Be great to hear from you.

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