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Branding Basics

Defining The Target Customer

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Defining The Target Customer

Organizations exist for one purpose – to meet human needs. Thriving organizations do that exceedingly well. Venerated organizations have managed to meet evolving human needs over a long period of time. All of an organization’s revenues and profits result from one thing – customers who are willing to pay money for products and services that meet their needs.

Any brand management initiative, any marketing initiative, and indeed any business or organizational initiative must start with a solid understanding of the customer.

Focus is an important part of a brand’s success. Brands focus on a target customer and often narrow their focus to a particular customer need segment. As I’ve mentioned here before on Branding Strategy Insider, customer targeting is the first step in brand design. Everything else emanates from that. So let’s start with how to identify your brand’s target customers.

Look for customers that meet the following criteria:

•    They have an important need and your brand meets that need.
•    Your brand has the potential to be preferred by them.
•    There is something about your brand that they admire.
•    They have the potential to provide your organization with the ample revenues and profits over the long run.
•    Your organization can grow by building a long-term relationship with and increasingly fulfilling the evolving needs of these customers.

At a minimum, you should identify and understand the following target customer attributes:

•    Demographics
•    Lifestyle
•    Needs/desires
•    Hopes/aspirations
•    Fears/concerns
•    Product purchase behavior
•    Product usage behavior

In case you missed it, earlier in the week I wrote about customer insight techniques. I’ll touch on market segmentation in the days ahead.

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1 Comment

Ted Grigg on September 21st, 2007 said

From what I see, most companies have a cursory understanding of their customers and even less insight on the attributes of their future customers.

I’ve noticed that as a company gets bigger and inward focused that the higher up the executive echelon an executive works, the less contact that executive has with the customer.

Rarely do executives talk directly with their customers exposing themselves to customer problems.

The customer data typically available within most companies includes general demographic and psychographic details that run for pages, but offer little in the way of actionable customer information.

As a direct marketer, I prefer to focus on behavioral data assimilated from large customer databases. When do customers buy, who are the most profitable customers, who are the least profitable, what buying process do they go through, how do they see our product related to competitor products, how large are the targets markets in terms of actual counts and so forth?

I realize that brand developers must look to the general target market for a common thread that meets the needs of most customers. But they often miss the deeper purchase behavior information available from today’s relational databases.

It seems to me that understanding what offers people respond to and how they purchase products should have deep implications when developing the brand strategy. But there seems to be little interest in this area by most branding strategists I have worked with in the past.

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