In his book Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?,marketer Seth Godin defines two eras of marketing: old and new. Godin describes the era of “Old Marketing” as "interrupting masses of people with ads about average products." This type of marketing would be non-targeted advertisements for products designed for non-targeted demographics. Essentially, a product designed for the masses, advertised to the masses.
However, Godin describers “New Marketing” as that which “leverages scarce attention and creates interactions among communities with similar interests." This would essentially be advertising to targeted audiences with products designed for a target demographic.
Old marketing was for the masses. New marketing is for the niche.
In the era of old marketing, microtargeting was hard to accomplish, at least relative to what is possible today. Therefore, products were created with mass appeal, and advertisements were broadcast to the masses in order to reach the most people. "Masses of people could be processed quickly and cheaply, and some would respond to your message and become customers," writes Godin. "The key drivers of this approach were a scarcity of choice and a large resource of cheap attention."
As a result of this style of old marketing, brands weren’t focused, but built for the masses.
The rise of microtargeting, especially with online mediums of advertisement, has completely changed the game. No longer do brands have to sacrifice a narrow focus in order to have a broader range of appeal. In fact, the ability of brands to microtarget audiences amplifies the strength of narrowly focused brands.
For online brands, this means playing to the niche. One of the keys to brand strength is keeping it narrowly focused, simple, and consistent. Online advertising now makes it easier than ever to find new customers, and let them find you. Even the most narrow of brands is able to ring-up sales, which would have been impossible in the era of old marketing.
In the era of new marketing, the niche is no longer the trap that it once was. In fact, it is now a positive because it allows brands to stay on the narrow track. As some brands continue to play to the masses, play to the niche. You don’t have to appeal to the 99% if your customer base is the 1% you want to reach.