When we start to think about our customers, there are two important categories to observe, and one is much easier than the other.
The easy one is Demographics, which are the broad, obvious ways of categorizing people. These include Age, Gender, Income, Geographic Location (i.e. what suburb they live in), right down to what size shoe they wear.
These are dangerous, because as we know, people are much more complex than just the usual stereotypes. Yes, sometimes your customers can be categorically defined, maybe they need to live within 10kms of your restaurant, or are too young to be contemplating different retirement villages, but even then these are just starting points.
The REAL skill is in isolating the Psychographics; the attitudes, worldviews and beliefs that shape your customer’s personality.
These are hard because they’re invisible, and can be hard to pinpoint. For example, what motivates your customer? What drives their social conscience? This isn’t a Yes/No question; the person who sponsors a World Vision child doesn’t necessarily also own a KeepCup or buy The Big Issue. They might not vote for the Greens, or worry about their Food Miles.
What worldview does a person need to hold in order for them to see value in your product? It’s tempting for us to say “All I’m asking is for people to pay a little extra and we can do a world of good!” but the reality is that the vast majority of shoppers don’t think that way. We need to look at competing motivations; would your customer rather offset their carbon from a long haul flight, or keep that money in their pocket? Are we asking people to pay a premium in order to do something good for society?
If we are, then the question needs to be asked: How many people ACTUALLY care enough about your cause that they will go out of their way to shop with you? Selling to Social Enterprise aficionados isn’t hard; the hard part is selling to the other 99.9% of the population.
What beliefs does someone need to hold in order for them to see value in your business? Where do these people congregate? How do we communicate with them in a way that’s effective? Gone are the days of “Interruption Marketing”, when the key to success was to get on TV and in front of the nation’s eyeballs. We’re in an era where customers are more spread out and well informed than ever before. This is a blessing and a curse; it’s easy to reach them but ONLY if you know what Psychographics you’re looking for.
Here’s a good starting point, some of these will be more relevant than others, but try them all on;
· Who will your customers be voting for at the next election?
· Does my customer care about whether their groceries are Fair Trade?
· What topics get them fired up in conversations? What are their friends and families sick of hearing about?
· Would our customers know what a Social Enterprise is?
· What percentage of our customers identify as being particularly religious? How do their beliefs impact on their behaviour?
· Are your customers considered connoisseurs of a particular product or service? Do they spend abnormally large amounts of money on specific things?
· How far will they go to get the best possible product? What are they willing to forego in order to save few dollars?
· Where does your customer like to go for their holidays? How do they spend their free time?
Walking a mile in your customer’s shoes is often uncomfortable, but it enables you to make better business decisions. Keep observing and learning about how your customers think, and start scheming up solutions to their future needs.
Frankly, it’s too costly not to know them inside-out.