What is Total Market? AHAA Helps Provide a Definition!

May 2, 2014

By Bill Duggan, Group EVP, ANA

Total market was all the rage at the recent AHAA Annual Conference. Kudos to AHAA for bringing together the industry to put a stake in the ground with a definition of total market. That definition …

A marketing approach followed by corporations with their trusted internal and external partners which proactively integrates diverse segment considerations. This is done from inception, through the entire strategic process and execution, with the goal of enhancing value and growth effectiveness.

In marketing communications this could lead to either one fully integrated cross-cultural approach, individual segment approaches, or both in many cases, but always aligned under one overarching strategy.

Collaborators to this definition included industry trade groups like ANA and 3AF; client-side marketers Clorox, Dunkin Brands, Kellogg’s, and Kimberly-Clark (all ANA members!); agencies including Acento, Burrell, FCB, IW Group; and consultants Dávila Multicultural Insights and Santiago Solutions Group. Apologies if I left anyone out!

Here’s what a total market approach is:

  • Recognizes that one consumer or another may represent greater volume opportunities for brands. Consequently, TMA for one brand may be different than TMA for another.
  • Supported and shepherded at the highest level of the organization.
  • Intends for all marketing executives to be well versed on relevant segments and feel that they have “skin in the game.”
  • Reflected and embraced across the organization, its partners and its communications strategy.
  • Characterized by a collaborative dynamic between the marketer and the partner agencies from the outset.
  • Reflected at the strategic AND the tactical/executional level.
  • New vision and approach that should be embraced as a long term strategy.

And here is what a total market approach is NOT:

  • One size fits all cost reduction plan.
  • Translation or adaptation of a general market campaign without diverse consumer insights from the beginning of the process.
  • An assignment that is a consideration only for the multicultural MC team.
  • Not a short-term test or project

Feel free to agree or disagree. As noted above, a total market approach for one brand may be different than for another. But this conversation and discussion are good for the industry!


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