Quite correct Chris. Twenty five years ago I arrived at the same conclusion whilst working in the booming sector (in Australia) of wine direct marketing.
Over years in that industry, I had learnt that wine buying culture here had progressed from the wealthy educated demographic to encompass EVERY sector of society. (Robert Joseph, well known English wine globetrotter, has said to me that he believes Australia has the most sophisticated wine culture in the world).
So when a list broker tried to sell me “the right target market” I would tell him that EVERYONE of legal drinking age was now our target market.
In 2003 I started designing software that could target our existing buyers on a one-to-one basis. Using my business rules, my IT colleagues built a system that delivered personalised offers of wine from our on-hand inventory to our 350,000 customers based on their past purchases.
…BUT I quickly came to the realisation that the one customer insight we were missing was NEED. “Have I got a dinner party this weekend?” “Am I having friends over tonight?” etc.
Without having the proverbial fly on every customer’s wall that was a problem we could not solve, so I settled for an algorithm which applied each customer’s buying pattern, by wine type. Of course, that assumed the customer bought 100% of their wine from us, which in itself was a problem… but it transpired that many did!