This morning, I was reading through the newest posts on my blogroll. This is my morning cube-coffee ritual. I have gleaned some great information from the blogs to the right. I particularly enjoy Duct Tape Marketing, Marketing Headhunter (although, I wish he lived and worked in Tulsa-I would be a loyal client!), The 1 to 1 Blog, and especially Wonder Branding. But I digress.
Recent posts on a number of blogs are discussing the "controversy" surrounding Shawn Corey Carter and his boycotting of Cristal champagne. Brand Noise is one of those blogs. I enjoy their blog, and no doubt, the marketing knowledge of New York-based, Brand Noise sponsor, Scenario DNA's newest, freshest employee trumps my marketing knowledge exponentially. However, I did find it ironic that the post immediately below the Cristal exposée (and by the way, you wouldn't believe the amount of time and trouble I just went through to get that little ' above the middle e in exposée) was about price discrimination. "Why is this ironic?" is, I'm sure, the question that all of you loyal readers out there are asking. Stay on the edge of your seat a little longer. A little longer. OK, here it is: both articles deal with choosing one's customers; however, the article about Cristal implies that it may not be a good idea, while the article about Brand Afficionados suggests that this is simply a part of the deal. I love the closing sentences of the Brand Afficionados post:
The buyers who care most about quality tend also to be those who are least willing to jump over discount hurdles. To the extent these hurdles work, business travelers and buyers of black laptops have little grounds for complaint.Again, let me emphasize, this is not to be critical of Brand Noise's postings whatsoever. No doubt, the crux of the Cristal post is the implication of racism that accompanies the customer choice Cristal has made. (However, in light of the widespread nature of hip hop across all races, I would hardly say that to disparage hip hop is hardly a comment about race. One might even say that Mr. Carter is choosing his customers too, by suggesting that hip hop is associated with those who belong to a particular race.) Nevertheless, I suppose my question is, to what extent should brand managers and marketers choose their customers? We hear of firing customers all the time. It's a part of the process. We hear of target audiences which would seem, by definition, to be exclusive and exclusionary. What is wrong with a firm wishing not to be associated with particular elements, simply out of a desire to preserve an image that, no doubt, came from an investment of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars? Sure, it would be wonderful if every single person in the world would buy any and every product, thus negating the need for "sales limiters" (for lack of a better word); but if that were the case, I would have no career to transfer into, because there would be no need for marketers. So as long as we are having to target, train, and fire customers, what is wrong with choosing ( and, consequently, excluding) customers?
By the way, for those of you who don't know, Shawn Corey Carter is the entertainer who refers to himself publicly as "Jay-Z."
Cristal has been around for 230 years. A typical price [for a bottle] is $200 or more.