Identifying your Customers

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To develop a marketing program that helps you reach and meet the needs of your market, you must first identify you customers. A market profile identifies your customers. There are many ways to describe your customers, whether they are consumers or other businesses.

Consumers can be identified by a number of variables.

  • Geographic
    • country, region (prairies), city, density (rural, urban), climate (pacific)
  • Demographics
    • age (6-11, generation X, 65+)
    • gender
    • family size
    • family life cycle (age <35, single or married, no children; age >35, married, teenage children)
    • income
    • occupation (professional, manager, clerical, sales, homemaker)
    • education (grade school, high school graduate, university graduate)
    • religion
    • nationality, ethnicity
  • Psychographic
    • social class (lower, middle, upper)
    • life style (leisure activities, exotic vacationer, saver)
    • personality (gregarious, authoritarian, ambitious)
  • Behaviouristic
    • purchase occasion (household staples, special occasion)
    • benefits sought (quality, service, economy)
    • user status (non-user, ex-user, potential user, first-time user, regular user)
    • usage frequency (light, medium, heavy)
    • loyal (not, somewhat, devout)
    • readiness to buy (unaware, aware, informed, interested, desirous, intending to buy)
    • attitude toward product (enthusiastic, positive, indifferent, negative, hostile)

Businesses may be identified in much the same way as consumers. For example, a firm may identify a target market according to user status, usage frequency, location, attitude toward the product, etc. A company may further identify a market by the size of a potential client firm or its purchase behaviour.

When developing a market profile, the key is to find buyer characteristics that are related to the purchase of your product, i.e. parents with infants use diapers.
After you have classified potential customers, you can build market profiles and segment markets according to customer potential.

A clothing manufacturer has developed a number of market profiles, one each for toddlers, athletes, grandparents (for their grandchildren), teenagers and tourists. For the small start-up entrepreneur, targeting large diverse markets such as these is extremely difficult. To make your marketing efforts more manageable, it may be wise to choose one or two market segments to initially target.

Determining the best market-coverage option for your business will be based on your product/service (demand, resources, market share required for success, etc.)

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