Why are some explanations more powerful than others?

“How many of you live paycheck to paycheck?”

The entire conference room at the Consumer Healthcare Product Association convention, a few years back, got a little quieter the moment this question left the lips of Doug Degn, aka the head of all food merchandising for Walmart at that time.

Very few hands went up.

“Look, you’re all welcome in our stores. Please come into our stores. You’ll be treated well. But know that our stores are not designed for you. Our stores, every one of them, are designed for people who live paycheck to paycheck.”

Question: Why did Walmart choose to primarily serve the segment of the population that lives paycheck to paycheck?

Is it because it’s the right segment? You know the answer is ‘no’ because there is no such thing as the ‘right’ segment.

Walmart chose to primarily serve the folks who live paycheck to paycheck because its founder Sam Walton wisely decided to choose the folks his company would serve.

And therein lies one answer to the opening question of this article (go ahead, take another peek). You see, one of the reasons why some explanations are more powerful than others is because some explanations are offered with the knowledge of who they will serve.

If you bother to look around, you’ll see so many organizations, individuals, and products that are struggling in the marketplace in large part because they can’t answer this question in a simple way: Who do we serve best?

Over to you: There’s no ‘right’ segment of consumers. Maybe you’re for the ‘My Office Has Four Wheels’ folks. Maybe it’s ‘Busy Moms With A Biz,’ or ‘Folks Who Like Internetting.’ I don’t know.

But this much I do know: There are consumers quietly crying out for that kind of clarity. (By clarity, I mean that all of your touchpoints, aka the places where your brand touches folks’ needs, speak primarily to them.)

Are other folks also welcome? You bet. They too, of course, as Doug said, will be treated well. But never lose sight of those you primarily serve.

Because you never want to be like Colgate Beef Lasagna, do you? ? (Yes, the toothpaste brand once launched a line of lasagna, and it is now in the Museum of Failures as a result.)

Apr 13, 2018