Your life, their stage

Your life, their stage

Author | Source: Business Line | Thursday, Jun 15,2006 8:20 AM

Your life, their stage

Whirlpool is waking up to lifestage marketing, which entails capturing consumers’ attention and money during the various times they consider buying a product.

When women marry, and also work, there is pressure to keep up a lifestyle that does not rock the boat. Home appliances come in handy, and this is a lifestage marketers can exploit.

When did you buy your own refrigerator? When you left home to work and live on your own, or perhaps, when you got married? Did you realise you were at a ‘lifestage’ marketers could use to sell their wares more efficiently?

Whirlpool of India is using lifestage marketing to focus better on target audiences. “Home appliances are not impulse products, they are not related to age, time, season or anything of that sort. It is certain lifestages that trigger consideration of home appliances, says Anup Jain, General Manager (Brand Marketing), Whirlpool.

Jain explains that marriage, move to another city, arrival of babies and buying your own house or renovating it are some of the situations that trigger consumers to buy home appliances. When women marry, and more so if they are working, there is a pressure to keep up a lifestyle that does not rock the boat getting the cooking done, clothes washed, ensuring a hot meal at dinner, minimising dependence on erratic domestic help and, in addition to all this, getting to work on time and being successful at the job is big motivation for people to consider buying home appliances.

According to Jain, research based on NRS 2005 data analysis has shown that even if 33 per cent of the 2.6 million unmarried women aged 20-24 years in the SEC A and B markets buy a refrigerator within their next birthday, it would account for 25 per cent of the 3.5-million unit refrigerator market. Incidentally, a refrigerator is one of the first few buys a family makes.

Typically, marketers categorise consumers of fast moving consumer goods and consumer durables by social class, income, age and gender. However, discovering lifestage triggers help to identify who among these is more likely to buy an appliance.

Lifestage marketing also makes for efficient use of marketing spends. It also implies greater use of direct marketing. Whirlpool has tied up with a matrimonial Web site as one of several home appliances providers to market its wares. To get brides and grooms buying, a honeymoon incentive has been thrown in.

We are confident that we will be spending on 100 per cent prospective buyers who will set up homes after marriage. If we were to advertise in a newspaper, we would be wasting our rupee on consumers who are not considering marriage as well, declares Jain. There have been more than 5,000 registrations on this Web site. “We hope to have a 100 per cent market share in refrigerators amongst this audience. Otherwise, it would have been the average we have outside _24.5 per cent!” he elaborates. The newlyweds segment is the largest contributor to the home appliances category and accounts for 25-40 per cent of refrigerator buyers, he adds.

And there’s no escaping these triggers! Even if you survive one, you are bound to experience another as you go through life,” says Jain. Resisting a trigger depends on alternative solutions (family support, domestic help with the washing and cooking, having time on one’s hands and such) or barriers (income or space constraints). But temptation/necessity may rear their heads as lifestages change. If you put off buying a washing machine when you set up home, the arrival of a kid and the attendant loads of nappies might have you reconsidering it very seriously.

Jain calls this a very potent consumer behaviour model. The traditional classification lacks in-depth effort it does not reveal when the category actually gets into a consumer’s consideration set, he says. Jain, who has worked in FMCG companies earlier, says one company followed a similar marketing practice the point of market entry.’ It would market shampoo to adolescents just becoming conscious of their looks, and sanitary napkins to young girls on the threshold of puberty. But the difference between lifestage and point-of-market-entry marketing is that the latter is restricted to entry, and therefore not a complete model that extends to various points in time.

Whirlpool commissioned detailed market research among 100 homemakers and their spouses across various SECs in the metros and Agra, Ahmedabad, Kanpur and Jalandhar. The India arm is the first in the Whirlpool group of companies to undertake lifestage marketing and probably the first among other companies in India as well, says Jain.

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