HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.

A major mistake business people make is that they know little or next to nothing about their would be customers or people who would be purchasing their products or services before they start the business of their dreams. Knowing or learning all you can about your customers in your target market and location would assist you in creating new products and services that would meet their needs, thereby providing solutions to their problems. You need to know what makes your customer think about buying your products in the first place, how and when he wants to buy it and how he uses and disposes of the product he bought. We call this aspect of business marketing CONSUMER or CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR.

Consumer or customer behavior is the behavior that a consumer or customer exhibits or displays when he or she decides or selects what product to purchase, use or dispose of, to satisfy a need or desire. To understand consumer behavior, small business owners need to know who is a consumer, what a need is and what a product or service is. From the definition of consumer behavior, we know that a consumer is an individual or group that purchases a product or service to meet a need or solve a problem. We can also understand that a need is a physiological desire to provide solutions to a problem.

There are three important stages in which a customer purchases a product or service. They are as follows;

THE PRE-PURCHASE STAGE.

When a need arises, the customer thinks about simple ways to meet that need and there are products and services that are designed to meet that particular need. The customer would also need information to learn about the best product of choice to purchase to solve that need through word of mouth from friends and relatives, radio, television, magazines, newspapers, the internet.

THE PURCHASE STAGE.

When the customer decides on which product or services to purchase, he or she might find it easy or difficult to do so. A consumer might have an interest on a particular product and might not locate that product close by and the need then arises to go out and find the product. The environment and sellers of the product would also add in the positive and negative experience of the consumer during the purchase.

THE POST-PURCHASE STAGE.

The experience that the customer/consumer had when purchasing and using the product would determine whether the consumer would be satisfied with the product and whether he or she would buy or purchase it again. This experience would also lead to the customer in informing other people about their experience with the product and therefore influence their purchasing decision.

When a small business person eventually knows who his customer is and why, when and how he purchases his products or services, it is also important to place your customers in groups so that you can learn and meet their needs. People have different tastes and desires. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, remember?! The following groups or segments are how you can group your customers;

HEAVY OR FREQUENT USERS.

Business people can easily identify their heavy, frequent or faithful users, who regularly use their products and services and can then create or design a promotional service that rewards and encourages these group of people to keep on using the products or keep on doing business with them.

AGE.

Consumers of different age groups have very different needs and wants. People who also belong to the same age group have different characteristics but can also share a set of values and common cultural experiences, that they carry throughout life. In some instances, some businesses would develop a product to attract one particular age group and then try to broaden its appeal later on.

GENDER.

There are so many products and services that are made specifically for men and likewise women, which range from clothes, creams, perfumes, shoes, bags etc. Even from birth, boys and girls do not share the same things.

FAMILY STRUCTURE.

The family structure has a big effect on consumers’ spending abilities. Young bachelors and single women may earn less and spend less and stay in a one room apartment. When they earn more, they spend more, go out, mingle and plan to get married. When they eventually have children, they have to spend money as the family grows.

SOCIAL CLASS AND INCOME.

People who belong to the same social class are approximately equal in terms of their income and social standing in the community. They work in roughly similar occupations and they tend to have similar tastes in music, clothing, leisure activities and art. They also tend to socialize with one another and they share many ideas and values regarding the way one’s life should be lived. Knowing people’s social class and income, determines which groups have the greatest buying power and market potential.

RACE AND ETHNICITY.

Different ethnic groups and race or country enables business people to create products and services that meet the different needs of these people. Imagine selling alcoholic drinks to an astute muslim, it only begets violence. So it is very important for you to learn the different cultures and interests before you launch the product to that market.

GEOGRAPHY AND LOCATION.

When a new business launches it’s products and services, it does so by introducing those products in a particular area or location and when the people in that location accepts the product, they can then decide to introduce that product to other locations and also taking into consideration, the logistics cost of doing so.

LIFESTYLE.

Our different lifestyles determines what products and services we would purchase and use. Customers identify with brands or brand products that define them as individuals. This aspect of marketing is very important because it will assist business owners in creating an identity or brand image it’s customers can easily recognize and identify with.

These different aspects of marketing or selling would assist you the business owner to know your customer, his needs and wants and provide solutions to them by offering a unique products and services that meet those needs. You can learn all of this by organizing and holding a poll were you ask people in your target market location certain questions related to the products and services you want to offer to them. It is the question you ask and the answers you get that would help you in making important decisions for your business. Marketing professionals call this aspect of marketing, marketing research and you really need to do this for your business or hire a professional to do so for you.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

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