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The Recent Branding Blunder of JC Penny JC Penny is the best most recent example of a company that didn’t compile enough about their customers’ psychographics. Since its beginning, JC Penny has drawn people into the store through the use of coupons and artificially high prices. Since many department stores have this strat- egy, Penny’s figured if they sold an item for its true value, then people would respond favorably. They didn’t. Instead, they went elsewhere to do their shopping.

Penny’s mistake was in not understand- ing their psychographics. JC Penny, like most department stores, targets the middle class. Many of these customers can afford to pay more for better quality, but the catch is they don’t want to. Usual- ly, the people who flock to a department store sale are not doing it for the money they save; they’re doing it because get- ting a bargain feels like ‘winning’, which gives them a natural high. It doesn’t feel like winning if the prices never change and there’s no hope of a bargain. If JC Penny had known the psychographics of their customer instead of just the demo- graphics, they would have been aware of this particular buying behavior.

Do You Know What You’re Really Selling? After you discover who your Avatar is, you have to understand what you’re

really selling. McDonalds isn’t really selling food, Geico isn’t’ really selling insurance, and Apple isn’t’ really selling computers. Instead, these companies are selling a lifestyle, a promise of a bet- ter future or present.

For example, McDonalds almost never talks about how good their food tastes. Instead, it talks about how fast it is, how affordable it is, and how many good times you have with your friends and family while eating at McDonalds. They are really selling good times at an af- fordable price.

Apple is selling how user friendly it is and how much easier it will make your life. It also focuses on being beautiful. It knows their customers seek to bring at- tention to their intelligence and excel- lent taste. Therefore, everything Apple creates feeds into this need.

This works for small business too. For example, a personal trainer isn’t sell- ing exercise or even their time. Instead, they are selling the promise of a health- ier, more positive future.

Do You Need Multiple Avatars? If your product or service appeals to a wide audience, then you’ll need mul- tiple avatars. Though your logo, colors and message will never change, your voice will. For example, when McDon- OCTOBER 2013 15

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