During a vacation in our beautiful Salento region, I read a few books on marketing. In November I’ll start teaching marketing at Diskos, a school for the specialization of business communication, and I felt the need to “refresh” the concepts I learned at university … alas, now 35 years ago.

Among the various topics, I became entranced by the part that deals with market segmentation, the analysis of consumer behavior and, especially, the periodic research on lifestyles; the so-called: psychographics. These surveys provide – especially to companies that deal in consumer goods – information regarding the social, economic and behavioral evolution of the various targets of interest, grouping consumers into homogeneous groups.

The coast where I spent my vacation has about twenty equipped resorts, one next to the other. The competition this creates pushed them to differentiate themselves from the others; each in an attempt to attract a certain category of people. A mental effort which – despite not having the canons of a structured analysis – resembles psychography. Here are a couple of examples

Tropical-style Seaside.

The names of the beaches go from “Bahia” to “Togo Bay” and through “The Maldives of Salento”. Sun beds, umbrellas, canopy beds and their bar furnishings are all strictly in wood, straw and other natural materials; Robinson Crusoe-style. Prices for a spot in the front row nearest the water’s edge run for around €40 (and includes an umbrella and two full-length deck chairs). So…high-end clientele, mostly young (or those who believe themselves to be) and who like to show off their body (the trendiest tattoos and topless bathers can be found here). This category of bathers arrives at the beach around 1.00 p.m. (and usually already very tanned).

Grandparents with Grandchildren Seaside.

Here the names evoke more reassuring images: Bassa Marea  (Low Tide), Conchiglia Azzurra (Blue Seashell), Lido degli Angeli (Angel’s Resort). The beach furnishing are more traditional: aluminum beds (deck chairs) and classic, cloth umbrellas. Staff are equipped for beach games and there’s an air compressor station to inflate anything from pink flamingos to unicorns. Front row prices range at €25 so, in the mid-range, for large families (aimed at grandparents, not so much because the number of children is numerous). At 1:00 p.m. the grandmother leaves the beach to cook the orecchiette pasta with tomato sauce.

These customizations arise mainly from experience and from the imaginations of those who manage the resorts, not so much from in-depth studies supported by statistical surveys. There is no lack of imagination in these parts! But these brief examples show that marketing is a natural attitude for those who do business using their heads: segmenting the market and making personalized proposals.

Maybe I allowed myself a bit of beach gossip here but as I write in my book “Exporting in 7 Steps” at times: Practice makes perfect.

PS: my favorite resort was called “Bonavista”; small and with very kind operators/owners.