Low-income consumers in America are those that earn $30,000 or less in a year, according to Nielsen. In 2012, this group represented 30 percent of the population, included all ethnic groups and were expected to grow. To market to low-income groups you have to avoid perceived stereotypes, research your target markets thoroughly, design marketing that appeals to long-term benefits and focus on the value of your product or service.
Appeal to Benefits
Low-income shoppers are not always just concerned about the costs of a service or product. They often perceive the value and the benefits they’ll receive as nearly or even more important than the price. For instance, low-income consumers are usually willing to buy products and services that lead to career and educational advancements, according to the Harvard Business Review. While you may be tempted to market personal care products to further a person’s romantic possibilities, for example, you will get a better response if you show how a suit or cologne will lead to professional success.
Package Products and Services
Shoppers with less disposable income often look at the total cost of a product or service rather than the cost of each item. For example, selling a cup of coffee for a reduced price may not be as popular among low-income consumers, as selling a breakfast meal that includes the coffee. Packaging products requires that you look at the total return on your investment rather than the profit made from each piece of the package.
Go Where the Consumers Are
Low-income groups spend more of their time online than any other income population, according to Nielsen. They spend an average of nine hours per month on social media sites. They stream video and watch more daytime TV than other segments as well. Online marketing targeting low-income populations through pop-up ads and special offers can be successful. Interactive ads delivered with streaming video may be particularly useful as well. While nearly 85 percent of all ads connected with streaming media are simply re-purposed static ads, according to StreamingMedia.com, those willing to tap into the low-income market with interactive ads can produce greater product awareness.
Fulfill Consumer Needs
Meet consumers at their level. Add signage and labels in Spanish and other languages to reach different ethnic groups within the market segment. Show low-income consumers how your product or service, at a lower cost, offers the same benefits and quality of higher-priced brand name items. Use your marketing efforts to show long-term benefits. For example, showing how a high-fiber diet leads to healthier, longer lives, with fewer instances of cardiovascular disease can help sell food products. Research your target markets to find out what they need and specifically target those priorities.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."