It pays to know your target audience

Knowing who your customers actually are has never been more important. Research shown to Marketing Week reveals that 55% of people have switched brands in the last year – meaning that treating them well to encourage loyalty is key. At the same time, brands must communicate carefully to their target audience: another study shows that 46% of young people feel that media and brands do not respect their age, for example.

Lucy Handley

These figures show that brands must know who their target groups are, who is interested in buying their product or service and how to communicate with those people.

Discount retailer Poundland’s cheap and cheerful branding and pile ‘em high presentation appeals to low to middle income consumers looking after families. That might seem pretty obvious, but its trading director David Coxon says it looks at who is shopping for what seriously.

It has found that 2% of its transactions are via American Express corporate cards, suggesting that small businesses are customers, and those with higher incomes in the AB demographic groups are also going to Poundland in greater numbers.

Get your target audience wrong, or send someone inappropriate messages, and you can switch people off your brand. A fifth of people say they have switched retailers in the last year, according to the research by Accenture.

“Customer loyalty is on a knife edge,” says senior executive Les Bayne. Many people say that service is more important than price – with 45% saying they would not accept a lower price in exchange for lower levels of service. And 34% say their expectations of service are higher than they were a year ago.

Knowing who your customers are and what they want will help brands provide better service to people. Poundland might be able to broadly identify its customers and what they are buying on a daily basis, but for those businesses which have much longer sales cycles, identifying and nurturing an audience is crucial.

Vauxhall looks at long-term global trends to see what consumers will want from its cars, which are likely to take several years to develop. But sometimes it has to take a bit of a leap of faith, according to marketing strategy manager Martin Lay. “We sometimes have to take a chance and develop niche models. Some don’t have as much success as we would hope, but on other occasions, they can really storm the market.”

In future, Lay says customers will get more involved in product development, particularly younger groups.

Martin Moll, the UK marketing director at Honda, agrees. “The more you research the customer, their journey and their experience the more you realise it is so individual.”

So the future for brands that want to keep loyal customers is to research them wisely to know them well.


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