19 Business-to-business marketers are also finding new ways to customize their offerings. For example, John Deere manufactures seeding equipment that can be configured in more than 2 million versions to individual customer specifications. The seeders are produced one at a time, in any sequence, on a single production line. Mass customization provides a way to stand out against competitors. Unlike mass production, which eliminates the need for human interaction, mass customization has made relationships with customers more important than ever. Just as mass production was the marketing principle of the twentieth century, mass customization is becoming a marketing principle for the twenty-first. The world appears to be coming full circle—from the good old days when customers were treated as individuals, to mass marketing when nobody knew your name, and back again. Choosing a Targeting Strategy Companies need to consider many factors when choosing a market-targeting strategy. Which strategy is best depends on company resources . When the firm’s resources are limited, concentrated marketing makes the most sense. The best strategy also depends on the degree of product variability . Undifferentiated marketing is more suited for uniform products such as grapefruit or steel. Products that can vary in design, such as cameras and cars, are more suited to differentiation or concentration. The product’s life-cycle stage must also be considered. (More about this in Chapter 8 .) When a firm introduces a new product, it may be practical to launch only one version, and undifferentiated marketing or concentrated marketing may make the most sense. In the mature stage of the product life cycle, however, differentiated marketing often makes more sense. Another factor is market variability . If most buyers have the same tastes, buy the same amounts, and react the same way to marketing efforts, undifferentiated marketing is appropriate. Finally, competitors’ marketing strategies are important. When competitors use differentiated or concentrated marketing, undifferentiated marketing can be suicidal. Conversely, when competitors use undifferentiated marketing, a firm can gain an advantage by using differentiated or concentrated marketing, focusing on the needs of buyers in specific segments. Socially Responsible Target Marketing Smart targeting helps companies become more efficient and effective by focusing on the segments they can satisfy best and most profitably. Targeting also benefits consumers— companies serve specific groups of consumers with offers carefully tailored to their needs. However, target marketing sometimes generates controversy and concern. The biggest issues
usually involve the targeting of vulnerable or disadvantaged consumers with controversial or potentially harmful products.
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