Fragmentation – What it Means for Marketers

Posted: August 30, 2010 in CMO, Fragmentation
Tags: , ,

Over the weekend, on the heels of two very successful events run by my marketing team, I was asked by a client how marketing today was different than marketing 10 years ago. I thought about it and answered “CMO’s and GM’s need to be comfortable in embracing the fragmented nature of the world”. He looked at me strangely and here’s what I meant:

Fragmentation happens in two ways for marketers: There is audience fragmentation and marketing fragmentation. Both occur now in ways that just simply weren’t applicable a decade ago. This is because of two things: a major shift in consumer trends and growth in technology (specifically devices).

At its core, marketers fundamentally want to go where their audience is to give them the best chance to promote their brand, generate sales or generally appeal to those they think will be most interested in information, a product, or a service.

Audience fragmentation means that it is much tougher for a marketer to get in front of their target audience. The shift in consumer behavior to cause this has been an increasing demand for all things to be “on-demand” and digital, thereby giving consumers a vast number of choices in what they consume and how they consume it. No longer do consumers actually behave in a way that has them interacting with just a few forms of media. This is good for marketers as well as a challenge. Good, because there are now tons of ways to reach people; a challenge because the number of ways to reach people is actually dizzying.

It seems like the days are behind us where consumers rely or interact with a handful of media to get their information. It isn’t just a daily printed newspaper, a handful of TV channels, and a couple of radio stations. Think about what consumers use now which fragment a marketers audience: hundreds of TV & satellite channels; hundreds of satellite radio choices; a vast array of devices like the iPhone, iPad, Kindle and more; millions of websites, forums, search engines and blogs like the one you’re reading. In fact, if you were born in the mid-1980’s or later, you probably can never remember a time when there was no worldwide web, cell phones or hundreds of DirecTV channels.

Audience fragmentation always leads to (or should always lead to) marketing fragmentation, meaning a wide array of budget line items. So like actual consumer behavior, a marketers toolkit must follow with a wide assortment of line items and creative thinking. No longer are there only traditional elements to a marketers toolkit like advertising, public relations, event marketing, etc. Now, a marketer must have a strategy for mobile devices; a detailed web strategy which includes many elements like social media, display and search – and often a strategy-within-the-strategy for each of these pieces. Depending on your industry, there is probably still TV, radio and print strategies in your budget, but those are becoming less as consumers shift their usage; there are simply dozens of new things that have to be accounted for by a marketer.

I would qualify a marketer’s job, or challenge, as somewhat ironic. Ironic in the sense that consumers are more fragmented than ever before because of the number of choices available with which to consume things; yet, there are a wide number of tools, applications and strategies with which to reach that fragmented audience. What will make CMO’s or GM’s successful is their ability to educate themselves, watch what consumers are adopting and be highly-organized in their approach.

One thing that hasn’t and won’t ever change is a marketer’s desire to “go where their audience is”. What has changed and will continue to change are the ways that marketers actually make that happen.

  1. […] fragmentation, marketing fragmentation, online marketing Note: This post initially appeared here on August 30, […]

  2. […] Epic's CMO Mike Sprouse is at it again with a missive on the predicament created by a quickly innovating world of data-driven advertising. He suggests, "What will make CMO’s or GM’s successful is their ability to educate themselves, watch what consumers are adopting and be highly-organized in their approach.Read more. […]

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