I read an article a while back in the MIT Technology Review, the gist of it was that the ‘big data’ power represented by Facebook was leading rapidly to true markets-of-one. Markets that are completely understood uniquely and do not have to be aggregated or averaged. Markets that, thanks to the power of Internet and mobile communication, can be communicated to directly. That’s nirvana for the marketer: being the exact right thing for the one person being communicated with.
The only problem with this situation is, of course, that the product remains one thing that has to be purveyed to all of those individual markets of one as if it was the ideal thing that they had indicated they would buy because the description, communication, value, etc. resonated. Admittedly, there is some wiggle room even for the most custom of desires and the most generic of products, like clothes washers for instance.
Where there’s a will there’s a way. Somebody just has to find it and prove it out.
It’s more than conceivable for this presidential election cycle to prove out the concept. Obama’s campaign showed American politics how to use Internet and mobile social structures to finance and win an election. This year David Axelrod could push my Facebook theory to create a unique Barack Obama for every single person. (Actually this is a little far fetched for Obama and this election because the President is a known commodity. Consider what happens for a politician that is new, like Obama was four years ago.)
By first identifying the target market of one’s desires and needs, and then presenting the product–even a politician–as exactly the right thing to satisfy those desires and needs, the marketer or campaigner of any time can be everything to everyone. Within reason, of course. You say, “Tim, this can’t work because eventually more than one person would see the candidate at the same time.” Maybe so, but is it not equally possible that a candidate could run an election without seeing anyone? Maybe?
In any case, the proof case in this instance is only to show that a product could be whatever the market needs it to be. It is easier to achieve that if the product is somewhat malleable. But it’s not impossible to convince different people that the same product can address their very different needs for very different reasons.
And that, my friends, is the magic.