Why, In Some Respects, Your Brand’s Target Audience Should Be “Everyone”

In a New York Times interview, Ron Johnson, CEO of JCPenney was asked:

Q. Who are you targeting?

A. We are going after all Americans. We would like to be the store for everyone.

Think about that. 

Rather than targeting a specific segment, Johnson goes right to the highest level.


Everyone is important.

In emotive branding, everyone matters, from the customer (every customer), to the employee (every employee), to the partner (every partner), to the supplier (every supplier), to the investor (every investor), to the community (every citizen) … well, you get the idea.

We go to the highest level in our thinking because we recognize that what links all these “segments” is the common thread of the human desire for meaning.

By linking what a brand does to the meaning humans desire, powerful bonds are forged.

But, you ask, how can such a high level link apply to diverse groups of people, living in different cultures, driven by different things?

We find is that once the “meta” level of meaning is realized, it readily becomes more and more powerful as it is made relevant to the needs, beliefs, interests and aspirations of people within highly specific segments (for example, the people in a small department employed in the brand’s Nebraska factory or middle class customers who have just become parents for the first time).

Comments (1)

  1. Interesting comment by Ron Johnson because it is the opposite of everything we have learned in marketing and certainly the opposite of what rather wise marketers like Seth Godin have been teaching. Yet, Ron Johnson has proven that if he has an idea, it has to be taken seriously. I can’t say I understand how this will be played out.

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