For marketing and de-marketing the first step is?

We have discussed enough about Greek yogurts, Coffee , Dry bar and Software. We even talked about Cronut. All those were cases of marketing. Now take a look at the following cases,

  1. A public school principal trying to keep a right “customer” mix in his school
  2. Public health officials trying to protect teen girls from skin cancer
  3. Conservationists trying to protect poor rhinos from being slaughtered for their horns

These cases are not that different from selling software or $40 blow dry. Instead of demand generation you are trying demand reduction.

The school principal does not want customers with expectations the curriculum cannot meet or those who won’t play a role in school’s growth.

The health officials are trying to teach the teen girls about detrimental side effects.

The conservationists are trying to eliminate the black market for rhino horns.

These three are doing de-marketing, trying demand reduction. And where does one start for de-marketing? The same place where one starts for marketing – customer segments and the job they are hiring the product for.

As The Economist writes about Rhino horn de-marketing,

The first step in “un-marketing” rhino horn is simple: find out who your buyers are and why they like the product. TRAFFIC, an organisation that monitors the illegal wildlife trade, has just conducted a survey to identify the most important buyers of rhino horn.

And the customer job  turns out to be,

It turns out that it is a luxury purchase by rich men in Vietnam: professional businessmen, celebrities and government officials.

In Vietnam horn is often bought for the sole purpose of being gifted to family, colleagues or people in authority. Buyers think that it affirms their social status—and that it is good for their health. They believe it possesses properties that detoxify the body and can therefore cure anything from a hangover to serious illness.

In business meetings, and other gatherings, rhino horn is sometimes ground to a powder, mixed with water and drunk. Rhino horn is made of keratin, like fingernails. Yummy!

How do they effectively do de-marketing?  In marketing one makes product pivots and positioning to make it the most suitable candidate for the customer job to be done. In de-marketing one does product pivots and positioning to make it the most unsuited product for the customer job to be done.

In case of rhino horns,

So how do you turn successful, well-educated men against a luxury good that conveys wealth and well-being?

Yet a better strategy may be to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about the product. One idea being suggested is to inject rhino horn with poison that could make those that consume it seriously ill.

Anyone want to grind up and drink poisoned rhino horn?

Now if we can take this to saving sharks from connoisseurs or shark fin soup.

Demarketing – Six Reasons For Turning Away Customers

Recently I was sitting in a information session  at a local elementary school. The principal did not pause much after his welcome statement and made the following bold statement,

I am not here to tell you how great the school is. I am not going to ask you all to enroll your children in my school. In fact I am actually going to discourage many of you from enrolling. If you have come here just because you have heard how great the test scores are or how great your friends and neighbors find the school is – you may be surprised. You may find the curriculum, teaching methods and our expectations of you may not connect with you. It is better off you know this before you enroll.

Wow! Talk about, segmentation, targeting and positioning.

Don’t get me wrong, the principal was not being rude. He could not be more polite or  genuine. He was not saying the children are not qualified or the school has stricter guidelines for admission.

What he was doing was demarketing.

Demarketing is making a strategic choice of not serving certain customer segments.

In general demarketing is defined as reducing demand for a product with barriers and higher prices for a number of reasons, like

  1. The marketer cannot meet all the demand
  2. Social causes (e.g., demarketing drugs, tanning salons)
  3. Protecting your brand and customer mix

In the school’s case, it is a lottery school and has only limited number of seats . What the principal did may look on the surface as a way to reduce demand.  But he was also concerned about not alienating his current customers by brigning in new customers who do not buy into school’s methods and values.

If marketing is about finding the right segments and targeting them, demarketing is about finding the segments whose needs cannot be met with your current offering and making sure they do not self-select themselves to be your customers. It is about getting the right customer mix whose expectations can be met and needs served by your product.

Be it a school, blog readership or boat sales, demarketing is as important as marketing:

  1. So only those customers who prefer you for the reasons that you can control and deliver, choose you.
  2. So you will not have sudden uptake in customers only to vanish as soon as they appeared.
  3. So you will not acquire a set of customers whose lifestyle, taste or wherewithal to pay is fleeting or whimsical.
  4. So you will not be compelled or tempted to change your product mix to serve the customers who shouldn’t be yours.
  5. So you will not have a bunch of dissatisfied customers who generate significant negative WoM marketing.
  6. So your core customers will not be turned off by the presence of these wrong customers.

Demarketing is not a tactic like reverse psychology, it is about making choices!

Turn away the wrong customers so you won’t turn off the right customers.