Furthest Right

The perfect customers

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” could well be a slogan for all marketing. However, to justify their existence marketers push for constant acquisition of new audiences.

This creates an ugly cycle where business is always aiming for moving targets. Like education and government, business becomes trendy because each new trend is a justification for all those marketing jobs.

Unfortunately, this can also make business destructive, because much how our society became more permissive in order to be inclusive, business makes its advertising targets more outlandish in order to show acceptance of everyone.

Running up against this is the ugly truth that if our society is truly pluralistic, or a civilization in which there is no common truth or values system, but many values systems co-existing, marketing cannot target a single audience at a time but must target thousands.

Much of what some conservatives see as malevolence from business is simply this manic combination of seeking business, and allowing the marketing types to justify themselves by inventing a new audience.

Although many people think of homosexuals when this topic emerges, the broader trend is toward including Generation-Y style hipsters: people for whom surface appearance and novelty of experience is most important.

Homosexuals are excellent for advertising because they are a moral flag-waving exercise. If you accept homosexuals, it is like saying that you accept everyone, and because you have done the morally right thing, all morally right people should shop with you.

This is why companies like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google have tried to “keep up with the Joneses” by throwing successively more outlandish displays of support for homosexuality, homosexual marriage or other LGBT-related issues.

Again however this is marketers inventing an audience grouping that does not exist. There is no moral purchasing group. There is only social guilt for shopping with anyone who does not join the moral guilty crusade.

If we look toward the history of business in this country, however, we can see how this entire crusade is a fallacy. The group that has consistently rewarded business is the mild-mannered, family-oriented, casually conservative mostly-white American middle class.

These people will never make dramatic headlines for marketers. They are functionalists above all else. They have careers and families, and everything they buy is to serve those. They like good clean fun, normal living, reliability and efficiency.

These things are boring to a marketer. How do you sell one widget as being better than another? Unless one widget is truly far above and beyond the other technologically, you find some way to trick it out as trendy, hip, cool, urban, wacky, wow, etc.

But the good thing about the middle American audience is that you sell to them on function. They compare energy output and efficiency. They shop by bottom line but are swayed by quality indicators like grades of steel or CPU speed.

While that may be boring as mud, it’s the kind of characteristic or personality — a precursor to culture — upon which you can build a nation. If marketers are incompatible with that, perhaps we should do away with them.

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