Coordinating Your Target Market – A Lesson From Mexican Entrepreneurs

The best way to reach your peeps is just about always on my mind — it comes with the territory of being the marketing therapist. So here I had been, two days ago, lounging around for the public beach in Puerto Vallarta. And I ended up, no big shock, watching the vendors who sell up and down the beach. It is an excellent case study of how to figure out what to sell to a specific target market.

In the area of two hours we were went to by quite a number of beach vendors. Here’s a list of the items we were offered:

Cooked skewered shrimp, topped off simply by one of the limes hooked onto another skewer.

Heavy blankets in various shades that could be used on the beach or as a rug at home.

Brightly colored big pitchers that looked like ceramic but were actually wood.

Toys plus gum from a basket.

Tuba-tuba, that is a chilled coconut drink served in to a cup from a huge hollowed out double gourd.

Lace shawls.

All sorts of jewelry – silver, shells, handmade.

Elaborately carved cold fresh fruit, your decision, from a head-balanced platter.

Music from a 3-group band, complete with voice plus instruments (including a bass fiddle)

Music from a two-person steel music group percussion group, a 4-foot lengthy instrument that unfolded and sat on a table, complete with sound system (battery operated).


Bracelets hand-woven together with your name on it

Straw hats

Big silver and mother of gem fish which are jointed throughout the entire body so that the fish “swim” when wiggled.

I’m not quite sure this is almost everything, but the list covers most of the suppliers we saw drifting by.

OKAY, let’s say that your job is to be the beach vendor on a warm Philippine beach. Some of your potential customers will be sitting in chairs under palabas, some will be already sitting in restaurants along the beach. Your job would be to sell as much as you can from what you are offering. Can you name the top two things to sell? Can you name underneath two things to sell? Remember that your own target market is beach goers, a number of whom are foreign, some of who are locals, all of whom take the beach, and some of who are eating or drinking in restaurants. What are your picks for the 2 best things to sell to this marketplace, and the two worst things?

Keep in mind, too, that you have to carry what you market, walking in the sand, up and down the beach for miles and hours a day.

My two picks for the worst? The brightly colored large pitchers, which look like ceramic but are made of wooden. They are awkward to carry, the vendor can’t actually carry more than about four at a time, and who on the seaside wants one of these pitchers right after that? Even if a potential customer was not for the beach, the pitchers are too big to easily carry home in case you are a foreigner, and more than likely the locals may even use them as they don’t hold liquid. I think the guy that chose to sell the pitchers requires a few marketing lessons!

My second choice for the worst to sell, even though a close race, is the steel music group percussion. The instrument was large to carry (requiring both persons) up and down the sand, hard to set up, and had to be hauled along with a fold-out desk and the battery-operated sound system. That’s a lot to set up and take down for just one track, even if you had good luck selling the background music to a lot of people. Plus, many people besides the one person who paid for the music can hear it, so you aren’t exactly going to sell music to the next individual, are you? And frankly, most beach goers are busy sleeping, reading, riding the waves, or walking up and down the beach….. they don’t really have hearing live music on their minds.

My two choices for the best things to sell?
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Straw hats, because lots of beachgoers get to the beach thinking they will not need a hat. But when they get there, they realize they do! The caps are relatively light to carry (I saw one vendor with a collection of about 50 straw hats on his head). As I watched him sell to someone on the sand, I realized he also had an upsell! He took leather braided bands out of his pocket and offered to add one to the hat just for a few more pesos. Smart guy – beach goers need hats, plus they didn’t wear him out to bring.

My second choice for the best thing to sell is the cold, fresh fruit. This both gives a beach person some thing to eat and quenches thirst. It’s colorful and appetizing, and very noticeable since most of the fresh fruit vendors carry the trays on their heads. It’s not costly, it’s healthy, and even the kids seemed to like it. It’s probably one of the simplest things to carry on the beach, and the tray actually gives the vendor just a little shade as he walks.

The point to this is that there are many things to consider when you are choosing what and how to sell to your target market. You do have to consider the pound associated with flesh it takes out of you, the expenses you have in obtaining the product, plus, of course , what you believe your marketplace will want.

This doesn’t apply to the seaside vendors as much as it does to you, but one way to quit guessing what your market wants is to ask them! Work with a brief survey, talk to a subset of your prospects now and then, keep your hearing to the ground. You’ll be more apt to design something that is wanted and needed than if you just put something on your back and start strolling.