Customer Segmentation Example: Romance Novels During Recession

Customer Segmentation Example: Romance Novels During Recession

The $1B Industry that Makes Hearts Flutter… Even When Times are Tough

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that romance novels make up the largest single genre of all fiction published, and that publishers of this genre did exceedingly well in the last recession. This customer segmentation example shows how a recession-proof product has plans for expansion, undaunted by economic news. 

Is a Recession in the Near Future? Customer Segmentation Example Helps You Plan

Merited or not, in 2022 there has been much concern over a potential oncoming recession.  

Glancing at the Google Trends for the number of times the word “recession” was searched over the last five years makes this undeniable. Indeed, going by this metric, there is more concern about a recession (at time of writing) than during any other time during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Assuming a recession is imminent, it’s interesting to consider the customer segmentation example of one industry today that not just survived, but thrived during the last recession from 2007-2009. 

Romance Novel Customer Segmentation Example Overview

The romance novel genre accounts for $1B in sales each year, and one-third of all mass market fiction books sold.

A recent (2017) survey, commissioned by the Romance Writers of America, provides relevant information for imagining the current demographics of the romance readership. The organization defines romance novel in two parts:

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as they want as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.” 

Examples of popular romance novels on Amazon include:

Reedsy’s list of 25 Best Romance Authors range from established authors like Nora Roberts and Carolyn Brown to breakthrough successes like Nalini Singh. 

Customer Segmentation Example: Romance Novels During Recession

The Surprising Customer Segmentation Example for Romance

According to this survey, 1 in 5 readers were men, which is big enough to be a surprisingly large customer segment, given how marketing for this genre has predominantly targeted women. This makes it all the more interesting that growth in the male market is highlighted as a future opportunity.

Other surprises this survey reveals:  

  • the average age of romance readers is 35-39 
  • nearly 2 out 3 respondents identified as white
  • almost 9 out of 10 identified as heterosexual 

Despite these trends, or because of them, areas of future growth were noted among younger readers more diverse in race and sexual orientation

This customer segmentation should be of interest, because it seems plausible to assume that romance novels will continue to sell well during a new recession, as they did during the last. 

Why Is This Customer Segmentation Example Recession-Proof?

Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine any number of reasons why this product should prove recession proof: 

  • the promise of a happy ending during hard economic times
  • pure escapism 
  • the relatively low cost of books in supermarkets, or through e-reading subscription services 

Every Customer Segmentation Example Needs a Plan

Understanding the market opportunity is the first step in developing a customer segmentation.  Our Customer Segmentation Template details the 4-step process for turning a hypothesis into results.

Ultimately, the worry over an imminent recession may prove to be nothing more than speculation, or concerns may be a legitimate prediction of the future. But potential recession or not, it seems safe to assume that the romance novel industry will continue to thrive.

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