Can a single brand sustain multiple consumer groups?

So I was in a meeting today and there was a discussion around taking one of our brands and a question came up if we could hit a lower age group as well as our current demographic. It currently is marketed towards mid aged adults and they would like to target late teen early 20’s with out a brand extension or new candy product. Is this possible? do any of you know of a brand that has done this?

My answer to this was that they are two totally different consumer groups and both have different needs. One is more image oriented and is young and hip, while the other is more reserved and settled in their ways. They both can be targeted under the same brand umbrella, but there needs to be two different products or sub-brands.

What are others thought on this? So like the title says, can a single brand sustain multiple consumer groups with different needs?

Kind of a tough one, I think I might know what brand it is. I agree that it might require a sub-brand or “enhanced” product. I’m not sure, maybe it makes sense to map out how the brand will expand to accommodate a larger audience. Will this diminish or increase the identity of the current brand?

Is there a particular characteristic about the product that could be introduced into products that already hits the younger target well?

A small example I can throw out there is Schlitz Beer, it was the #1 beer in the US and then the recipe changed and it sucked and faded into obscurity. Well the old recipe has been brought back and a lot of the marketing speaks to 60’s cars, girls, and that whole era, basically appealing to the baby boomer market. Now, the interesting thing is that they are using nostalgic marketing focused on the youth of the 60’s and at the same time it holds some appeal to the younger market today. That’s my plug for Schlitz :slight_smile:

The only way I can think of that you could work such a thing is by making it appeal to the younger market and make it aspirational for them… so they want to appear to be in the same market as the older group that do buy. It may be short lived though once the older crowd realise all the kids are into it :slight_smile:

My first example would be someone like Apple, a brand that transgresses all ages but I also thought about the Dos Equis adverts. It looks like it appeals to a much older consumer because of the age of the guy in the ad but it really appeals to people my age because I would love to be that guy, the most interesting man in the world.

I’m terrible at explaining things, that’s why I’m a designer, more of a visual person.
If I could draw it I would :slight_smile:

It’s a very tricky thing though, you’d have to bust ya balls to get an idea that would work in such a way.

edit: the Dos Equis ads do appeal to the older market, what older guy wouldn’t want to be associated with the coolness of that ad and it stills appeals to me, the younger guy.

I think it’s possible. It might depends though on how big the gap is between the markets. With something like candy, it also depends if there are competitors that have a similar product, in which case the branding is doing more of the job vs. taste. For example, M&Ms, there really isn’t a competitor (maybe smarties, but they taste vastly different so are not interchangeable).

If there are no direct competitors, I think you could even get away with the same product in two different packages (with the same name). One targeting one market, and another targeting the other. You could also maybe separate marketing messages based on when/where they are. One ad in a business mag that would target the adults (and kids will never see) and a totally different one in a tween mag, for example.

I think I’ve seen this done before, but can’t think of any examples.

Alternately (depending on how much cache the brand name has now), you could just rebrand it under another badge, like how a Pontiac product maybe be the exact same as an Saturn, but the brand has different targets.


This has been done in the liquor market, but I think that may be a bit different. Given the product it can appeal to may different demographics. This could also be the case with candy with brand as you mentioned M&M’s. Even though M&M’s target is probably younger and the brand is based around color and fun, it also appeals to adults and even the elderly.

My problem with it is that these age groups are so different. I don’t know if this is a great way to look at it but…I immediately start thinking about fashion. A 19 year old girl is going to be to have completely different fashion sense than a 38 year old women.

This could also be said about their chocolate. A 19 year old is going to want something that is fun and creative, maybe with different flavors and colors, were as a 38 year old women is going to want something that she can savor, pair with wine and have a little moment with it. So because these are two different experiences the packaging should also reflect that experience. This is why I struggle with the same brand and same product (meaning the candy) can sustain the two different age groups. This is just one example but the same concept can be used for many different products from, beer, liquor, cars, clothes, furniture, etc…

That’s a great example. (He can speak Russian… in French :slight_smile: )

Using the aspirational desire of a higher end product can be a great way to get a younger demographic into your product. But, if you’re taking something like Skin Bracer and trying to make it compete with Axe products in the 16-26 year old market, you’ll have a tough time.

Actually I’d disagree. To an older audience I think the Dos Equis guy would be looked at as a fool and/or a peer that the brand is making fun of. An older beer drinker anyways likely wouldn’t relate to the ironic humor and instead would more likely be looking for quality, taste, etc. instead of wanting to “look cool”.

The thing with aspirational connections is that often once they are co-opted or achieved by a “lower”/different group, they lose their aspirational status. I can really only think of a few fashion examples that can manage to pull it off in two totally different categories, such as Burberry for thugs and rich people and Polo back in the day for both white suburban kids and urban street teens.

In any case, I think it would be hard to make a candy “aspirational”. Most aspirational brands as so because of limited availability, or price. Candy is not expensive so even a 5 year old could buy it (I assume we’re not talking about gold plated chocolate here from Mars Snackfoods), and limited doesn’t really work either given that it sounds like an obviously mass market concept.

As for the different tastes of demographics, yes I totally agree. In general an adult population would want better quality chocolate, not so sweet and filler based. But I suppose what it comes down to is that we don’t know what product you are talking about, so don’t know the skew between demographics. As you mentioned M&Ms appeals to everyone. Bubble Tape, maybe not.


I assume we’re not talking about gold plated chocolate here from Mars Snackfoods

Hmmmm What an idea? :laughing:

But I suppose what it comes down to is that we don’t know what product you are talking about, so don’t know the skew between demographics. As you mentioned M&Ms appeals to everyone. Bubble Tape, maybe not.

This is fair. I just thought it would be a cool topic. No matter what the project is still going to happen. You know how it is in corporate, they see a hole and we go for it.

I like the examples with fashion and city and urban kids. Like you said this is driven by cost and status, but what else has this pull. Obviously there is cell phones as they have become more of a fashion symbol and now with the iPhone there is a bit of brand recognition, shoe are another, and cars as well. But can there be something as simple as candy, or cosmetics, anything that is less than $10 cause this same effect.

The only area I can think of that does this is toys. This is because the nature of the consumer being kids and they excited over the littlest things. They then show it to their friends and from there everyone in the neighborhood has one.

Universal appeal definitely exists, but typically only for the timeless brands. I presume that’s not your case.

If the teenagers think nostalgic you might have an in… There is a lot of that going on right now. My favorite is the Canadian Club campaign: “Damn Right your Dad Drank it!” PS: Do you think I started drinking Glenlivet scotch because I thought they tasted good? No, it was because of my Dad!

Any chance this “older womans candy” was fed to their children?

Yes I’d agree with that. You can get your brand to adapt the younger audience, but you probably won’t sustain both for long.

Good point. I also love that CC campaign and it’s a perfect example for one that hits both the ad’s and the kids. Same could be said for those retro cereal boxes that were posted around here. The boomers would identify as well as the typophile hipsters.


cg, Yes that is why I am involved.

Let’s take the Candy part out and just talk about branding in general. I think my biggest problem is getting my head around one single brand or skew targeting two different demographics.

Maybe I am crazy here but when I design something I am designing it to hit that demographic. Now if it starts to appeal to another than that is a bonus, but to design to hit demographic A and then in the same design you need to hit demographic B which is the complete opposite than that to me is a bit confusing. Why not have two different products? What happens if Demographic B picks it up and the Demographic A which was your loyal customer no longer like the fact that the other is using there product. You now have a back lash and have lost most of you consumer base.

I think a great example of this was the Tropicana redesign recently. They designed it to hit a more modern and younger crowd and did not take their loyal consumers in mind. We all know what that caused.

With brands such as Coke, M&M’s, Hershey :imp: , Levi’s, etc… I don’t think they have a target market anymore. I think like you said cg they are so old and have been engrained into our culture that they are universally liked and loved.

I sympathize with the dualing demographics. I design for nurses, and that demographic is split between the 20-somethings and the 50-somethings, with nothing inbetween! I take solace in the fact that there are iconic, classical, universally loved products out there. It can be done.

I’d recommend two style boards organized in one Venn diagram. Find where the overlap is!

I plan to do this and I am sure it is there.

Flipping through some image galleries on StrataCafe today and found this, reminded me of this discussion…

Hmm interesting. I do not believe this was ever produced.

hmmmm… i’m imagining a brand like lindt, ghiradelli, etc…

something that is promoted with more of an “old school” brand and design strategy. lindt advertises it’s 160 years of taste or somesuch. they want you to imagine being served their chocolate by a high class butler.

i wouldn’t try to make the brand hip with loud packaging or “cool” advertising (“DUDE! After a hard day of shreddin’ up the half pipe I love to kick it with some rad ghiradelli dark chocolate!”) This will not only alienate your existing base, but will confuse and be ignored by the younger consumers.

i would go with some kind of ironic ad, which gently makes fun of the product and the existing customer base without offending them. maybe some very high class, professional, grown up adults discovering the “orgasmic” taste of your chocolate.

I take solace in the fact that there are iconic, classical, universally loved products out there.

I’ve been wearing these through almost three generations (no not the same pair); jeans, shirt & tie, a corduroy jacket and I’m set. When they finally get completely blown-out I cut out the toes and the tongue and wear them to the beach.

It always surprises me how many “youngsters” comment on them, usually if they have a pair on themselves. I know why I buy them; I’ve grown up wearing them. But why kids buy them, alludes me.

To generate awareness and consideration with a ‘younger’ target consumer, the answer may lie in differentiated distribution channels, and brand communication touchpoints. A single brand can sustain differentiated target consumers, if target consumers experience the brand in differentiated ways.
This thread does bring to mind the ‘Diamond Shreddies’ campaign in Canada, which involved very creative thinking by a ‘young’ intern @ Ogilvy Mather Toronto, and who’s execution involved non-traditional efforts (facebook, youtube, etc).

PS: The corporate desire to target ‘younger’ may not match the effort, beyond brand identity or product, to sustain.

Thinking about this, maybe a direct marketing approach or new product isn’t necessarily the best route to gaining a younger market share. More traditional methods such as sponsoring winter sporting events with hot chocolate and subtle signage, or partnering with food industry companies that could use the product in combination with their own, like Cold Stone ice cream shops, Starbucks, Pastry shops, etc. Places and events where younger people could be introduced to the product in a less direct way.