Consumers tell us the biggest barrier to trying a new brand or product is the inherent risk in spending money on it—of buying a product that you’re not sure will work, or that you’ll like, especially if it’s replacing a brand that you buy already. For marketers, this barrier to trial is frustrating and that can often lead to finer and finer targeting of messaging and discounting to the most receptive consumer groups. Surely, they will be more receptive at this particular stage in their life that is driving them to consider new brands!

Lifestage POME Leaps From Awareness to Consideration

Making the leap from awareness to consideration is so important, and so often messy, that brands focus on a few key moments in a consumer’s life when she or he is open to a brand’s concept and product. This is the point of market entry (or POME), and is defined most saliently around life stages. The lifestage of welcoming a new baby, for example, into the family is such a critical, and concentrated, time of expanding awareness and reasoned consideration that brands like Pampers and Huggies drive in-maternity ward sampling and expensive direct to consumer mailings.  Once on a research project in my P&G days, I registered for three or four retailers’ baby registries (note: I cannot get pregnant). I completed the research, then moved on to the next assignment and a new city. To my amusement, a direct to consumer program tracked down my new address, and armed with my impending due date(s), sent me several samples of Enfamil and Similac.

This is a classic example of life-stage point of market entry marketing, and it is powerfully effective. Similarly, teen outreach programs for feminine hygiene products are leveraged heavily with great hopes of capturing four decades of loyal purchasing, for as brand managers well know, for some brands, winning a consumer at the point of entry can gain years of returns.

POME’s Great…If You Want to Reach a Handful of People

Is this narrow focus on lifestage POME worth it? For example, we ran a recent campaign delivering a laundry product to appliance buyers (a key POME), and that same product to general shoppers. We found a significant increase in purchase rates (26% vs. 16%) among the appliance POME group, but at 1/10th the rate of distribution.  For every 1 conversion from the POME stage, we saw 6.4 conversions with the general mass ecommerce distribution. The sheer scale a more broadly focused campaign provides more than offsets the slightly improved conversion that a finely targeted POME campaign brings

The Power of Surprise and Delight to Bypass Traditional Barriers

But what if this barrier, and this fracturing of the consumer into discrete and finite lifestage opportunities could be bypassed through efficient sampling? I’m not suggesting a spray-and-pray approach to sampling is best. Using our ecommerce retail network, we bypass the traditional barriers to sampling by reaching consumers at the point of usage, instead of at a random event or in-store. That consumer is going to try the product sample—it’s a surprise and delight that breaks through the awareness and consideration sets she’s worked up.

We often uncover surprising things that are missed through lifestage POME marketing. During a campaign targeting young women 25 and younger (for POME), we saw an average conversion of 19%.  But the strongest conversion (42%) was delivered by the 36-45 year old cohort, more than 2X the campaign average. For brands seeking to drive growth, discovering insights like these can provide fresh thinking on how and who to reach.

Ultimately, we want consumers to buy our client’s products, and we want to provide the broadest possible reach to do so. We want to continue to hear non-buyers, even those outside of narrowly defined POME criteria, like this 56-year-old, say, “[I] enjoy this product very much, makes me feel refreshed and clean. I am going to buy this product in the future.”

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