Coordinating Your Target Market – A Lesson From Mexican Entrepreneurs

The best way to reach your peeps is just regarding always on my mind : it comes with the territory of being a marketing therapist. So here I was, two days ago, lounging around within the public beach in Puerto Vallarta. And I ended up, no big shock, watching the vendors who market up and down the beach. It is a great case study of how to figure out what to market to a specific target market.
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In the room of two hours we were visited by quite a number of beach vendors. Here’s a list of the items we were offered:

Cooked skewered shrimp, topped off by one of the limes hooked onto a different skewer.

Heavy blankets in various shades that could be used on the beach or even as a rug at home.

Brightly colored large pitchers that looked like ceramic yet were actually wood.

Toys plus gum from a basket.

Tuba-tuba, that is a chilled coconut drink served right into a cup from a huge hollowed out double gourd.

Lace shawls.

All kinds of jewelry – silver, shells, handmade.

Elaborately carved cold fresh fruit, your decision, from a head-balanced platter.

Music from the 3-group band, complete with voice and instruments (including a bass fiddle)

Music from a two-person steel band percussion group, a 4-foot lengthy instrument that unfolded and sat on a table, complete with sound system (battery operated).


Bracelets hand-woven along with your name on it

Straw hats

Large silver and mother of pearl fish which are jointed throughout the body so that the fish “swim” when wiggled.

I’m not quite sure this is almost everything, but the list covers most of the vendors we saw drifting by.

OK, let’s say that your job is to be a beach vendor on a warm Philippine beach. Some of your potential customers will be sitting in chairs under palabas, some will be already sitting within restaurants along the beach. Your job is to sell as much as you can from that which you are offering. Can you name the top two things to sell? Can you name the bottom two things to sell? Remember that your target market is beach goers, a few of whom are foreign, some of who are locals, all of whom are on the beach, and some of whom are eating or drinking in restaurants. What are your picks for the two best things to sell to this marketplace, and the two worst things?

Bear in mind, too, that you have to carry what you market, walking in the sand, up and down the beach for miles and hours a day.

My two picks for the most severe? The brightly colored large pitchers, which usually look like ceramic but are made of wood. They are awkward to carry, the vendor can not actually carry more than about 4 at a time, and who on the beach wants one of these pitchers right after that? Even if a potential customer was not within the beach, the pitchers are too big to easily carry home in case you are a foreigner, and more than likely the locals may even use them as they don’t keep liquid. I think the guy that chose to sell the pitchers requires a few marketing lessons!

My second choice for the worst to sell, even though a close race, is the steel band percussion. The instrument was huge to carry (requiring both persons) up and down the sand, hard to set up, and had to be hauled along with a fold-out desk and the battery-operated sound system. That’s a great deal to set up and take down for just one song, even if you had good luck selling the background music to a lot of people. Plus, many people aside from the one person who paid for the music may hear it, so you aren’t exactly going to sell music to the next individual, are you? And frankly, most seaside goers are busy sleeping, reading through, riding the waves, or walking up and down the beach….. they don’t genuinely have hearing live music on their minds.

My two choices for the best things to sell? Straw hats, because lots of beachgoers get to the beach thinking they won’t need a hat. But when they make it happen, they realize they do! The caps are relatively light to carry (I saw one vendor with a collection of about 50 straw hats in the head). As I watched him market to someone on the sand, I realized he also had an upsell! He took leather braided rings out of his pocket and provided to add one to the hat just for a few more pesos. Smart guy : beach goers need hats, plus they didn’t wear him out to bring.

My second choice for the best issue to sell is the cold, fresh fruit. It both gives a beach person something to eat and quenches thirst. Is actually colorful and appetizing, and very noticeable since most of the fresh fruit vendors take the trays on their heads. It’s not costly, it’s healthy, and even the kids seemed to like it. It’s probably one of the easiest things to carry on the beach, as well as the tray actually gives the vendor just a little shade as he walks.

The point to this is that there are many things to consider when you are choosing what and how to sell to your target audience. You do have to consider the pound of flesh it takes out of you, the expenses you have in obtaining the product, and, of course , what you believe your market will want.

This doesn’t apply to the seaside vendors as much as it does to you, but one way to quit guessing what your market wants is to ask them! Work with a brief survey, talk to a subset of your prospects now and then, keep your ear to the ground. You’ll be more more likely to design something that is wanted plus needed than if you just place something on your back and start strolling.

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