From the January 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Don't look now, but your target market is shrinking. Really shrinking. Thanks to technological advances virtually unthinkable a few years ago, we're entering an era of individuality that makes the "Me Decade" of the 1970s seem positively pluralistic. No longer content to be mass marketed to, today's consumers are demanding personalized treatment like never before. Simply put, everyone is a market--a market of one.

In this get-exactly-what-you-want-when-you-want-it world, computers are made to order. Online booksellers don't just ship requested titles--they actually suggest titles based on each customer's preferences. Even McDonald's is touting its "Made for You" food-preparation system. Similarly, Burger King is renewing its "Have It Your Way" pledge.

What this means for your business is up to you. How do you customize your product or service using the anybody-is-not-everybody approach? Don't look now, but your marketing horizons are expanding. Really expanding.

Just So You Know...

Seeing the light: Although novelty lovers are no strangers to glow-in-the-dark T-shirts, illuminated Halloween decorations and the like, we're still somewhat in the dark ages when it comes to what we eat. Surprisingly, that may be about to change.

"We've created a molecular lightbulb," says Bruce Bryan, 44, whose Pittsburgh-based Prolume Ltd. is exploring the possibilities of using glow-in-the-dark technology in everything from cake frosting to beer. "We're the first bioentertainment company."

As Bryan explains it, Prolume essentially replicates the genes found in shrimp and jellyfish that enable these sea creatures to glow. Aside from food, Prolume is looking to utilize its research to shed light on the fields of medicine, movies and toys. Says Bryan, "Everybody likes light."

Special delivery: No battling for parking places. No mind-numbing treks through shopping malls. No wonder harried consumers are taking to home delivery with unabashed enthusiasm. Slicing into this action are major corporations like Gap and Blockbuster Video, which have both recently tested home-delivery programs in the Northeast. Needless to say, these delivery programs don't come cheap, but customers with more money than time are willing to fork over the extra bucks.

Face to face: Famous for its door-to-door selling, Avon Products is undergoing something of a company makeover through recent venturings into the retail arena. While testing beauty kiosks in select U.S. shopping malls, the New York City-based cosmetics giant is also turning heads with its spa/retail showcase glamorously situated in the Big Apple's Trump Tower. For those trading in beauty and bath products, it's a signal consumers may want to get up close and personal to such merchandise before actually purchasing. Makes scents--er, sense.

Contact Source

Prolume Ltd., (412) 916-9212, http://www.prolume.com