Bob, Jack, and Kate, three successful account executives of a local insurance agency are looking forward to spending their upcoming long weekend with hefty bonuses earned from contracting a large regional account. Bob, a long-time member of a community hunting club, is excited to purchase some new equipment from Cabela’s and will be heading out to the lodge with his pals. Jack, on the other hand, has planned a getaway in Vegas with his girlfriend- treating themselves with fine dining, indulging massages, and a few rounds at the table. To Bob and Jack’s bewilderment, Kate has decided to simply stay at home, catching up on some missed episodes of her favorite TV series, and spend her bonus on her favorite local clothing store. Although all three have similar demographics – age, job, salary, education, and location – they all had completely different preferences. If this is a common phenomenon, what can small businesses use to target their specific customer segments, other than using demographics?
Decades of marketing research have shown that consumer lifestyles can provide key insights into directing the marketing activities efficiently. A consumer lifestyle is defined as describing a person’s consumption patterns, which is influenced by both situational and personality factors. After conducting a round of customer surveys and panel group interviews, a women’s cosmetics company was surprised to find that older women were their main customers of facial cream, when all of their marketing was geared toward younger women. Likewise, understanding the lifestyle of customers is especially important for small businesses that must tap into a relatively narrow group of locals (and build a group of enthusiasts).
One way for small businesses to research their customers’ lifestyles is to conduct an online survey with their core customers (the 20/80 rule- 20% of customers account for 80% of the sales). While various methods exist to measure lifestyles, the “AIO” approach is easy to remember and implement- “A” stands for “Activities” (hobbies, family outings, events, etc.), “I” stands for “Interests” (type of movies, music, books, etc.) and “O” stands for “Opinions” (political, religious, ethics, etc.). Asking a series of questions regarding these 3 large topics will help small business owners to better grasp the characteristics of their main customers.
By utilizing easy to use online survey platforms such as SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics, small businesses can now afford to conduct in-depth market research with their customers. When in need of professional help, they can also access marketing professionals on websites such as Fiverr.com. All in all, it has become extremely important for small businesses to manage their operations and marketing more effectively and insightfully to succeed.