Consumer research is an important part of ensuring your company’s offerings remain relevant and in demand. As consumer trends and needs change over time, smart brands will tailor their products and marketing strategies accordingly. Here are two case studies of top brands that are changing to meet the needs of customers and staying on top of the market.
1. Identify the solutions you provide or/or the problems you solve
The starting point in defining the target market for your proposition is to understand the solutions you provide (or the problems that you solve). Once you have a good idea what these are, you can start to work out who is most likely to have these problems or require these solutions.
2. Paint a picture of the customer
Start to list all the different types of customers that have the problems you solve. Once done, you can start to build up a picture of these customers. Group them by location – where do they live, what is their environment like. Then group them by market sector – are they professionals, retired, students, etc.
Ask yourself other types of relevant questions about these people. Are they married? Are they male or female? Do they play sports? Define them in as many relevant ways as possible.
3. Who will gain from the value in your offer?
- To whom will these problems be most troublesome?
- Who will have the most to lose by not dealing with these issues?
If you can demonstrate that the cost of NOT sorting out the problems is GREATER than the cost of dealing with them, then your case becomes compelling.
Remember to take into account aspects like emotional upheaval, stress and the risk to reputation when implementing your solution, as well as a bottom line cost. It is all these factors that make up the value in your offering.
4. Think about your market
Today we live in the world of niche. For example, we are no longer prisoners of television schedules or shopping mall buying. We can watch what we want or shop where we want at our convenience from almost anywhere in the world; meaning every person can enjoy a unique viewing experience. The world is our virtual oyster.
The web is fantastic at delivering personalised products and services, cutting out many of the distribution challenges that previously existed.
It is these factors that mean it is a more effective strategy to be a big fish in a small pond rather than the other way round. It will be easier to build your reputation and gain referrals. You will also find you get more from your marketing endeavours.
With the previous knowledge gained, start to segment your market. Choose if you want to work:
- with particular types of people – high net worth individuals, men, women, students, and so on?
- in certain geographical locations – Toronto, North Vancouver, Canada, San Francisco, Boston and so on?
- around tight market sectors – professionals, doctors, athletes and so on?
5. Look internally at your company
One way of deciding on the right markets to pursue is to think about your company and your business.
- Do you have particular areas of expertise?
- What capacity and work load can you currently handle?
6. What else is available?
Once you have decided the answers to some of these questions you must look at the market to see what else is available. The question you must have an answer to is:
- Why am I uniquely placed to solve the problem?
- What do I offer that no one else can?
It may be that for some marketplaces there is no answer. However, in certain sectors or geographical locations there may be many competitors offering a similar product or service.
Once you have all of your answers, it’s useful to create an audience bio – basically a made up persona that has your list of target audience traits. Get to know this person and build your product or service to appeal to her.