Looking Beyond the Average - In Defense of the Outlier

In a recent blog post, marketing guru Seth Godin, describes the need to understand which audience 'Ideal, average or outlier' you are using to make marketing decisions and why.  A very good point.

Some further thoughts on the subject:

Focusing on the ideal consumer allows companies to zero in on the center ring of the bullseye.  This allows companies to develop more focused: products, marketing campaigns, and service offerings.  This greatly increases the chance of  'delighting' the ideal consumer, versus trying to accomodate all groups and not really delighting anyone.  Focusing on the ideal consumer can be very valuable, but it's not the complete story.

Focusing on the average consumer is a valuable perspective as well. This perpsective provides an ease of understanding by simplifying to an 'average', while also considering all data points in the calculation.  However, this method has its limitations too. Consider a simplistic example.  If you have 200 consumers and 100 are 7' tall and 100 are 6' tall, does this dictate tailoring your product to a  6' 6" person?  The 7' tall people might be angry when they keep bumping their heads in a car designed for the average.

Finally, and perhaps the least considered group  of the three, are the outliers.  Often times companies ignore this group, citing too limited resources to reach them, or the fact that this select group isn't a part of the intended target market.  In reality, there are many benefits to listening to the outlier, some of which include the following:

  • uncover a non-traditional use for a product
  • spark innovation by providing a different view point
  • reinforce who is not your target consumer and why
  • understand why the outlier is outside the target audience
  • today's outlier could be tomorrow's 'ideal'

The bottom line is there are great benefits to considering all three perspectives:  ideal, average, and outlier.  If you are interested in a platform that allows you to regularly listen to and engage with all of these individuals, check us out at My-Take.  


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