One of the more amusing moments of my time at Sears was when our newish CEO insisted that we stop referring to our customers as “him” and instead say “her.” This was meant to underscore the need to reinvigorate our apparel business and identify women as the most frequent decision-makers for our softline categories.
While there was merit to this strategy–and Sears testosterone-driven, male dominated culture absolutely deserved a swift kick in the, uh, pants–it ignored the complexity of Sears myriad businesses and the attendant diverse consumer segments we needed to attract, grow and retain.
Of course, Sears wasn’t alone. It’s common for business leaders and analysts to make global pronouncements about what “she wants” or how “our customer” is responding. While these statements may have an air of profundity, they’re just glib soundbites.
Today there is no everyone. There is no monolithic him or her or them.
Today the idea of being a little bit of everything to everybody is irrelevant. The era of mass is giving way to the era of us.
Today one-size-fits all strategies are running out of gas. We must treat different customers differently.
Today it’s not about “the customer” or any notion of all customers.
It’s about some customers; the right customers, carefully selected, deeply understood and served in unique and remarkable ways.