The beautiful people

We’ve had a busy month of events, campaign planning, and preparing for next year. One theme that keeps coming up is the adoption curve: attracting the early adopters to an event, a campaign, or a space and then making the leap to a wider audience.

At our Greater Manchester Property Group Christmas social, developer Tim Heatley from Capital & Centric talked about “people as ornaments”. The buzz in the lounge at Cultureplex comes from combining co-working with a gym, good coffee, and friendly service. It’s relaxed, cool, and young. 

You decorate your space (event, campaign, brand) with the sorts of people you’d like to attract into it. But how do you maintain that vibe while opening up to a wider audience?

The discussion at our event for CallisonRTKL, asking how technology can help us create more human-centric places, circled around the gap between tech innovators and those who resist change. A question from the audience about “developing technology for users that don’t understand the technology or don’t even understand that they need it” highlighted the challenge of considering the average consumer when creating a new product, brand, or campaign. Who are you excluding?

This has got us all thinking about what we need to consider when aiming for a wider audience.

“Ornaments” – the attractive people, the early adopters – will attract others like them. This will help a campaign thrive in the early stages. But innovators and early adopters make up only 2.5% and 13.5% of the audience. A lot more must be done to appeal to the majority when shaping marketing decisions.

The adoption curve

Using people that represent your ideal audience can certainly help take an idea from early adopters to mass market. People see others like them in a space and therefore want to be there too. 

Let’s say the ornaments in your new restaurant are avid gym-goers. They’re attracted to fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Sure, their presence may be enough to attract more of this same type of people. But it’s probably not going to be enough to reach a mass market.

On the other hand, early and late majorities cover 34% of the curve, everyday people just going about their day. They’d see a space filled with these ideal occupants and find themselves unrepresented.

“That’s not for me,” they might say.

There’s a chasm between the “ornaments” and everyone else that we need to factor in. Your choice of ornaments needs to appeal directly to your ideal customer. It’s a fine line between an aspirational position and making your customer feel comfortable.

“People similar to me, but a little bit better,” is what you want them to say.

Striking a balance

With this in mind, I think it’s increasingly important to know your market, recognise your key audiences, and keep your innovators and early adopters close. But it’s also essential not to alienate the majority. If a space or an idea appears too cool, too elite, too far removed from the everyday person, and its marketing reinforces these ideas, you’ll be limiting your reach.

Being consistent and far-reaching is key to moving an audience from “I’m not that kind of person” to “I am that kind of person”, whether it’s in technology, place, or brand. After all, everyone wants to feel represented. 

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