Stereotypes are important in marketing because they are patterns. Many feel that if you play to the patterns, you will win. Creative directors, on the other hand, have made a living going the other way — staying away from patterns, which is a pattern in itself.
Stereotyping Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, might suggest she was more likely to assist in the EU bailout because she’s a woman – a mom. Stereotyping a Long Island Rail Road worker who took retirement with disability at age 50, might portray him as a golf-playing aerobicist, while the reality is he is an arthritic thanks to 30 years keeping the trains moving during winter snowstorms.
Is someone in Aspen, CO who opens a retailer door and shouts in “Which way to Little Nells?” a New Yorker? Okay, that one might be accurate – but the reality is stereotypes are nothing more than learning for a brand planner. And as planners if we know “no one wants to be a stereotype.” It doesn’t mean the consumer wants to be the pioneer who takes the arrows or the Beta User whose machine gets crapped – it just means when being sold, we want to feel individualized. The promise has to have promise…not an explicit benefit. Let consumers’ minds work and process things in their own way. Europeans are better at this type of selling than Americans. In the U.S. we are very explicit with our ads and social media.
Sometimes being broad with a promise works harder. Peace.