Cradle to Grave Marketing

by Maryann Kay; Updated September 26, 2017
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Cradle-to-grave, or C2G, marketing refers to the strategy of marketing products and services to consumers throughout their lives. The goal is to develop appropriate products, communications and promotions that will maximize sales to consumers at each life stage. The concept is based on the "lifetime value" of a customer.

Lifetime Customer Value

LTV is calculated based on assumptions about the total quantity and corresponding dollar value of a company's product a consumer could purchase throughout his lifetime. To maximize LTV, a company must develop a cradle-to-grave strategy for its products. A result of the widespread adoption of this concept is the large number of marketing and advertising firms that focus on marketing to very young children.

Product Categories

Not every company can benefit from cradle-to-grave marketing, but large, diversified consumer product and service companies find the strategy fits them well. For a food products company or a fast-food restaurant, appealing to children's tastes, and having the children influence the parents' purchases, is one example of how C2G begins. An electronics company may make toys for toddlers, then advertise computer games when children reach elementary school. Later, fantasy sports games are sold to them as adults.

Data Collection

C2G strategies benefit from analyzing as much information as possible. Demographic information from broad sources, such as census data, is combined with individual consumer purchase data collected at retail stores via scanners and loyalty card programs. Credit card purchases, Internet browsing, survey responses, email and promotion interaction, and search engine and social media use give marketing companies a bigger picture of who consumers are and what they want.

Target Groups

C2G wouldn't be possible without the creation of "target group" descriptions, which help companies tailor their marketing campaigns to appeal to different age groups. Detailed target information helps companies to create advertising, promotions and even the products themselves to appeal specifically to the target consumers' behavior and preferences. Some common age group descriptions are 18- to-24-year-olds, younger teens and "tweens" -- or middle schoolers.

Media

Companies use media such as television commercials and Internet advertisements to promote their products to different groups. They also use channels such as in-store sampling or social media. A soft drink manufacturer may try to reach teenage boys through skateboard-themed commercials on a cartoon TV program, but try to reach their parents with football-themed commercials on NFL broadcasts.

Limitations

Cradle-to-grave marketing isn't appropriate for some businesses and products. Companies in the automotive industry can't market cars to someone under 16 years old. Financial institutions can't legally market to those under 18. Diet programs can't target younger consumers unless their parents and doctors allow them to participate.

About the Author

In her career, Maryann Kay has transitioned from advertising writer to corporate financial/consumer vice president on billion-dollar businesses. Along the way, she mastered entrepreneurship consulting, wine importing/travel and real estate businesses. A frequent speaker, writer and financial, travel and home care blogger, Kay's writing has appeared in national publications such as the "New York Times," "Wall Street Journal" and "Advertising Age."

Photo Credits

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