This past Saturday we were out and about.  We went to two events.  Both were extremely good examples of target marketing and narrow target marketing at that.

First we went to a Roller Derby event.  This may surprise you.  I had little awareness that this relic of the 1960s was still alive.  But it was a well-attended event and the sport, if we can call it that, seems to be coming back and it is pretty much only female.  It is claimed that there are now 500 women’s leagues in 16 countries.

Most of the women skaters use aliases which are usually a lame pun, somewhat sexual or empowering (Hair Heiny Grainger, DefeCaitlin).  I don’t know if they were inspired by the recent Ellen Page Roller Derby movie, but they sure didn’t look like Ellen Page.

Today’s Roller Derby is on a flat track but what was striking to me was that the audience was very homogeneous.  It was decidedly blue collar, Caucasian, between 20 and 40, and nearly all bore their ink with pride on bared arms.

There was blue grass music and lots of beer to be consumed by the audience who seemed to have a great time in the converted airport hangar that had been fitted with portable stands.  My guess was about 2,500 to 3,000 people were in attendance.  I hadn’t seen a crowd that consistently similar in quite a while.  Plus the grass roots feel of the converted hangar added an almost Fight Club edge to the proceedings.

Then we trundled off to watch the new movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

The movie is very entertaining and visually inventive.  I enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it.

But what was really fascinating was that the audience was very tight demographically.  The material in the movie was targeted head on to 20 to 30 year-olds.  That was the audience.  These were not the same people who were at Roller Derby either demographically or psychographically.

The gags, the comic references, the video game allusions were all strictly understandable by that age group. Much younger and they may not recognize the midi music or the dropping coins; much older and they would not understand any of the references to games or comics.  There was even one section inspired by Seinfeld with a TV laugh track.

Having watched over my son’s shoulder, I got a lot of the references (but not all), but I was out of my demographic in that audience.  If you want to know what young adults think like, this movie is good homework.

More and more we are seeing very selectively targeted cultural products.  Some, like Scott Pilgrim are also reaching out to the mainstream.

It will be interesting to see if there is a big enough mainstream market to support these events outside of their narrow targeting.  Or does the product have to be retooled to match the economics of their market size?  It would be a pity to dumb down something like Roller Derby.

In any case, with well defined targets, both of these will have their cult followings.

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