3 ways to understand your core customer

Understanding your customer is undeniably key, but how do you ensure you're not going too broad?

3 ways to understand your core customer

We know in the retail world having lots of customers and understanding them is key to retail success. However, the challenge is really knowing who your customer is as trying to appeal to all customers can quickly become counterproductive; resource ends up being spread thinly and there can be confusion internally, especially if the organisation is going through a period of growth.

Realistically you should be focused primarily on your core customer - instead of dispersing effort and resource on marginal groups, the key to increasing revenue is in understanding the core customer with an unwavering laser focus.

Zara and Asos are fantastic examples of companies who are focused on their customer, they are highly reactive and dedicated to making a product specifically for them. The PrettyLittleThing customer is also a great example of a persona that has been well defined, the product, price and promotion all driven towards the extroverted and price conscious customer whose purchasing decisions are highly affected by influencers and celebrity collaborations. By understanding their customer PrettyLittleThing are able to confidently navigate a crowded market with a strong brand voice across each marketing channel and this is only possible through having a well-defined customer.

At the other end of the spectrum, we can see companies who lose sight of their core customer and try and reach multiple groups. Although some brands undoubtedly do have distinct core customer groups, for the majority this results in a product strategy that is so broad that it ends up appealing to no one!  This lack of granular focus can often cause issues internally for example, a disconnect can become apparent in the coordination between marketing and product teams.  In the retail environment if your internal teams are in disagreement as to who the product appeals to, it's highly unlikely a connection will be made with the all-important customer.

The key to avoiding this is to keep marketing and product connected and focused on the core customer even as businesses grow. Some tips we’ve found that can help aid this:

Data analysis

The more data you can collect on your customer the better to stay ahead of their changing preferences. There are simple and easy to implement ways that you can gather data that impacts the business, from gathering customer birthdays to returns data. Linking this insight to sales data and plugging into a system like Tableau is now common practice in many retailers.

Focus groups

This can be a tricky one, but focus groups can be incredibly helpful. As long as you can see past the bias, particularly if you are paying customers for their opinions, there’s nothing better than listening to the customer in person -  to suss out their pain points.

Market research

There are many options available when it comes to market research. Given the bias that can occur in focus groups, our offering Product Future harnesses the invaluable opinions of customers shopping and browsing on the Mallzee app. By showcasing pre-release products to consumers in a natural shopping environment we are able to provide retail partners with insight on which products different customer segments like, generating accurate predictions of which products are likely to be best sellers and to whom, many call it scaled up focus groups.

It's easy to say, as a retailer, we need to put the customer first. However, in our experience, it’s more complicated than that. Understanding exactly who the customer is and keeping your focus on them is a solid strategy to ensure success.

Anisha Loomba

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