The Myth of “Low Hanging Fruit”


I hear students throw this term around all the time. The term was actually used more when I worked in non-profits revolving around student recruitment. I would offer you a definition, but Urban Dictionary’s is better:

Urban Dictionary  low hanging fruit

“Targets or goals which are easily achievable and which do not require a lot of effort.”

The sentence in context is extremely appropriate. “We’re a small company with few assets, so to succeed in the short term, we need to go after the low-hanging fruit.” Low Hanging Fruit (LHF) is a construct of the lazy. It does not exist. If you seek LHF then your market orientation needs realignment. Your entrepreneurial orientation needs a readjustment if you seek the mythical LHF.

See? It's fake. Like Yoshi.

See? It’s fake. Like Yoshi.

It’s not that LHF don’t exist, but the idea that some customers are more easily attainable than others is flawed. If you don’t believe me then let me get into market segmentation. The more you can zero-in on your customers by behavior, buying motivation, psychographics, and benefits sought, the more clear it how to sell to them will become. Then you will see that with a little homework on buyer behavior, everyone can become LHF. And if everyone is a LHF, then the whole idea of LHF is out the window. And you can be incredibly effective in sales and marketing to boot.

You must be wondering how to see something like this in action. Well, today is your lucky day if you are creating “performance wear for chefs”, because that’s the example we will use. (editorial note: this is my group’s segmentation breakdown for the Big Idea Competition and that’s why it is our featured example). And if you are not in the “performance wear for chefs” industry, then hopefully you can see how this approach is applicable to your company.

So, who is going to buy our apparel? Chefs obviously. So what kinds of chefs are out there? Pastry Chefs? Sushi Chefs? Sandwich Artists? Grill masters? Iron Chefs? Celebrity Chefs? Executive Chefs? Line Cooks?

Iron Chef Cat Cora, please buy my performance wear for chefs. Or at least endorse it. I can't pay but I can tempt with minor equity.

Iron Chef Cat Cora, please buy my performance wear for chefs. Or at least endorse it. I can’t pay but I can tempt with minor equity.

Do you think each of these chefs has the same buying behavior? Does every Executive Chef have the same needs? Do Pastry Chefs and Line Cooks seek the same benefit? Who else has a say in the buying decision? After answering those questions, you will have a nice portrait of a market segment. Let’s start breaking it down.

We have a Business to Business market (B2B) and a Business to Customer market (B2C).  This is parsed by who makes the purchase.  The B2C is a bit more straightforward. Within this market there are two segments: Home Chefs and Competitive Chefs. Yes, they are quite different, so let’s dig into the buying cycle of each.

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 3.06.21 PM

Home Chefs making this purchase might do so in a home goods store, department store, or kitchen gadget boutique. Anyway you slice it, they are pulling it off the shelf. Looking into their psychographics we would know that they probably have quite a few kitchen gadgets, have a disposable income, and enjoy entertaining and hosting guests. The home chefs read articles on cooking and watch cooking shows. They likely will buy these off a recommendation of a friend, celebrity endorsement, or feature in earned media. The purchase decision is most likely a solitary one, not needing to consult with any other individuals because they are the only ones needing approval and because the price point is so low they won’t need to ask a spouse or partner before diving in. They know that by wearing this performance wear they will cook better, stay cooler, and stay safer from burns or other kitchen hazards (these are the properties of our apparel).   Do you think their benefits sought are the same as the competitive chefs? Let’s take a closer look.

The competitive chef is one who tests their skill and recipes over barbecue, cake, chili, and more competitions for prizes. They seek an edge, something to keep them going, something to intimidate their rivals. They self finance this avocation so will likely be the sole decision maker in buying items and supplies. Their buying places may be at warehouses or through wholesalers; which has unique distribution opportunities that home chefs do not have. While they have some similar buying behaviors, they have distinct buying motivations and as such make up a different market segment.

We can do this on the B2B side, but I don’t want to bore you and I think by now you see how this process is replicable. More importantly, you can visualize how getting into the psyche of you customers creates evocative market segments, destroying any myths about Low Hanging Fruit that the “wantrepreneurs” want you to believe exist.