Premium POV

Finding a Target Audience in Transition

I never thought I would be the “mommy” type. I was career focused, loved to travel, ate dinner after 9:00 p.m. every night, and had football season tickets. The decision to have kids came later in life for me, but my husband and I did have kids. Even though I work to maintain my own identity, I couldn’t help but fall into some stereotypes. The backseat of my car is horrifying, and there are some Saturdays when I am still in my pajamas when evening rolls around. To say that the life I had grown accustomed to changed is putting it mildly. I absolutely love the changes and think my kids are the best thing on this planet, but it was change.

Transitional Audiences as Niche Markets

As a marketer, one of the changes that jumped out at me the most was the change in my spending habits. Not only was I buying baby/kid brands for the first time, but I started buying differently in other categories. Examples always help. Some brands like Medela and Huggies got in front of me as a purchaser for the first time because I was buying bottles and diapers for the first time. Toy brands like Melissa & Doug likely had been purchased previously as gifts here and there, but as a mom I became brand loyal. How I cooked changed. Slow cooker meals became my route to survival. Marinades I could put with chicken in the slow cooker became regular purchases for me. Any vegetable that came frozen and could be steamed in the microwave began to hit my freezer weekly. How I cleaned also changed. Dangerous chemicals in the home now scared me. I bought eco lines of everything I could. The list of brands from which I regularly purchased shifted drastically.

Looking retroactively, I now realize I was a transitional audience. People in a transitional phase are prime consumers to introduce new brands to. Transitional phases, other than having children, could be things like getting married, getting divorced, moving out, moving to a new home, graduating, starting college, retiring, changing careers, or bankruptcy. Some transitions are great, and others are difficult. Not all change is good. However, all of life’s major transition moments change what and how we purchase.

Audience Segmentation Based on What Type of Brand You Are

I have separated the way brands relate to audiences in transition into three buckets. First, there are brands that only serve audiences in a transition. We can call them transitional brands.  Examples include moving companies, loan companies, wedding venues, or infant car seats.

Secondly are the brands you are likely to be introduced to during a transitional phase, but you will keep purchasing. We can call them transitional intro brands. Examples include toys, diapers, furniture, notebooks, carpet cleaners, eco-friendly household supplies, cybersecurity, internet, or vacation destinations.

Finally, there are brands that do not tie strongly to a transitional audience, but an audience in transition will be more open to a brand change than one that is not. We’ll call those opportunistic brands. Take someone who is on their own for the first time and is grocery shopping. They are more open to new brands than they will be at any other time in life. Get their attention now and you’ll have a shot at holding onto them.

Marketing Strategy for Targeting Transitional Audiences

What should brands do with this information? Set aside investment to talk to transitional audiences based on whether they are in bucket 1, 2, or 3. A transitional brand will designate their entire marketing budget to transitional audiences. However, a transitional intro brand may just use 15% of their marketing spend to talk to people in transition to put them into the consideration funnel. Even in tier 3 transitional audiences are worth their own budget since they represent the most brand-change vulnerable.

Targeting transitional audiences has become easier and easier with modern marketing. Google has pre-made audiences for life events such as business creation, college graduation, job change, marriage, moving, purchasing a home, and retirement. Life event audiences can be used for targeting and bid adjustments. On social media, there are ways to target audience interests that makes identifying those in transition very easy. Outside of digital targeting, there are plenty of magazines for transitional audiences. Examples include bridal magazines, parenting magazines, and business magazines. Out-of-home can also hit transitional audiences with niche targeting such as on college campuses. Strategic digital placements, such as direct buys on Zillow, can also go straight to the source.

Brands need to think about the importance of transitional audiences to the bottom line and adjust marketing strategy accordingly. The amount of money it takes to convert someone can be expensive. Let’s say a brand must spend $50 to get someone to try their brand for the first time.  A transitional audience might just take $20 to get them to try a new brand for the first time. The savings accrued in the cost to convert is worth the focus.

Some examples of brands and products that caught me during the time of becoming a new mom include: Medela bottles, Huggies, Melissa & Doug, Cat & Jack, Seventh Generation, Lawry’s, Reynold’s slow cooker liners, Green Giant Simply Steam, Simply Potatoes, Disney+, Shutterfly, Instacart, and more. Many of these brands I will keep using for years. Every dime they spent to get me while I was open to new things because of my life transition was well invested.

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