One of the most challenging tasks for anyone involved in marketing is how to identify and reach a rapidly evolving target market. In today’s business environment, that could translate into anything from identifying growth opportunities in a developing country to keeping up with social media. In my household, one of the biggest challenges is keeping up with Puppy’s growth, both physically and emotionally.
Take her wardrobe for example. Up to this point, Puppy was easy to buy for. She preferred brightly colored clothing, with dresses and tights topping the list. So when she recently grew out of everything in her closet (overnight), I didn’t think replenishing her wardrobe would be a problem.
I went shopping while she was in school and found several great bargains on clothing similar to what she’d always worn. Little did I know that she’d advanced to a new fashion plateau, leaving me (and her dresses and tights) in the dust.
When she got home from school that afternoon, I handed her a shopping bag full of brightly colored dresses.
She pulled out the first dress. Her face fell.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“Um, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings,” she said, “but it’s the color of puke.”
I looked at the dress in her hands. It was darling. And it wasn’t the color of puke. It was the color of split pea soup, with little white polka dots all over it. It totally rocked her fuchsia glasses, too. But I could tell by the look on her face that I’d already lost the battle.
“Okay,” I said, “I’ll take it back.”
She pulled out the next dress. Again, where I expected to see sunshine on her face, there were only storm clouds.
I looked at the purple, turquoise and pink floral-print dress in her hands. It was right up her alley. “You don’t like this one, either?”
She shook her head. “Sorry, Mom. It’s just not my style.”
At this point I was pretty shocked, but still clueless. I returned the dresses to the store and while there noticed the cutest little turquoise jacket on sale. 50% off. She’d outgrown her fall jacket and this one would be perfect for spring.
That afternoon, I pulled it out of the shopping bag, sure that I’d hit a home run.
Puppy scowled at the coat.
And that’s when it finally hit me. My target market had evolved and I’d been left in the dust.