Last night I laughed when I saw a Heineken TV commercial that featured superheroes — an obvious attempt, if you ask me, to appeal to comic book readers and sci-fi fans. There’s also an Earthlink spot in which their customer service workers proclaim themselves geeks who get the job done. And Best Buy keeps announcing on the tube that they’re now using the “Geek Squad” to fix your computer problems. All these advertisements have something in common, the declaration that geek is cool.
Companies have marketed to the geek demographic because they often have more disposable income, which they’re willing to spend on expensive toys. As a subculture is pushed to the forefront, companies may jump on the bandwagon to appeal to this niche market. Businesses should be cautious though: The original demographic may feel they’re being pandered to, and that this marketing has adopted a degree of artificiality.
It’s smart to aim for specific groups — the Long Tail model can be successful — but companies must be careful not to upset the niche they’re pursuing.