1. A customers own self-image: A customer’s perception of their own self image, will play a huge part in what that person buys for themselves.
For example some people see themselves as being or are affluent / want others to perceive they are affluent.
This image can easily be contrived by wearing / buying well known brands, that are deemed to be high end,
expensive and are representative of a cohort of customers / people who are seen to have made it in life.
This is why you see people wearing brands like hollister, D&G, Chanel & others. This person might drive a BMW or Mercedes for example or at the more exclusive end of the market a Ferrari or other super car.
There have been many cases where persons have hired a supercar, or perceived high end car, or
indeed clothes, because they want to portray an image of affluence and prosperity and will go to alot of trouble to buy products / services that will let their friends know that they are successful, even though they can’t afford them.
The question arises as to whether you understand your customer segments enough to KNOW what their hopes and dreams are for the future and what their self image is, a knowledge of your customer’s self image, will help shape what
products / services to supply, how much to charge and overall how to position your business in the market place.
2. Social Belonging:
As human beings we are social animals and typically we prefer to be part of a tribe of people. Your tribe can be your family, your friends, your colleagues at work, your sporting colleagues and so on. What this means is that when your customers are making any decisions but in particular buying decisions, in their mind they are cross checking whether their tribe / reference groups in their lives would approve of their purchases. An example can be someone who decides to join a golf club and who then insists on buying a particular brand of golf clothes that they see other more established golfers buying. In this situation a newbie golfer, really wants to be considered part of the golfing fraternity and one way of easing their way into this ‘new tribe’ is to buy a recognized golfing brand that has been unofficially ‘approved’ by others. This very same scenario can be re enacted whether you want to be part of a rocker ‘tribe’, a college fraternity ‘tribe’,a ‘mom’ tribe and so on. Basically buying ‘approved’ brands within certain human tribes means that it will ease your transition into this tribe as a newbie and also help you to maintain your status as time goes on.
In essence, buying certain brands of product / services helps to explain to others ‘who’ you are as a person.
As a business owner, you really need to know what makes your customers tick and how your product / service helps your customers establish their self image and position within their tribes which in effect means how are you helping your customers to live their best life?
Following on from the previous example, customers are people who have their own self image, who want to be a part of a tribe or tribes. A follow on to being part of a tribe is the status your customers create in their lives by buying / consuming particular products and services.
Despite the fact that we live in a modern age, we are still influenced by the age old idea of status in society and where we each stand within this concept. Traditionally, there were different layers of status in society such as upper class, middle class and working class. Most of us are familiar with these, sometimes more so through our parents and grandparents.
What is interesting is that some of the lines are being blurred between each of the above recognized ‘classes’ in society. Nowadays there is far more movement and in fact a report this year, shows that there are in fact now SEVEN recognized social classes.
If you have watched the series Downton Abbey, you will be familiar with the notion of upper class and what it traditionally meant, equally throughout this programme it is very obvious the clear lines between middle and working class. This is represented through the jobs they had, what they owned, more particularly it was obvious in those days through what people wore on a daily basis, whether someone owned a house, a horse, a car etc
The business and marketing takeaway from the above is that if you understand what your core customers aspire to be in their lives, you can serve them more fully and sell more ‘stuff’ by providing what customers ‘REALLY’ want.
Hint: Customers may not always admit to certain aspects of their personality!
Throughout each century, each decade and each year there is a movement towards different styles
of fashion, in every conceivable industry and indeed in life, where media, politics, books and influencers, help to create change within society. This is just life and is played out massively through the clothes fashion industry, music and film to name but a few industries who strive for greater creativity and innovation and whose resulting choices impact heavily
In business we all need to understand different trends that evolve as the years float by. This means that society is constantly evolving and as a business owner we all need to be vigilant in understanding current and future trends. Why? Because they massively impact the buying behaviour of your customers, which means new trends will either encourage
people to buy more or sometimes less of your product / service, based on a customer’s understanding of what is currently fashionable or not. This is also about understanding your customers and whether they are early adopters etc
An example of a company who did NOT watch customer trends and new technologies was KODAK who famously went from being a very successful company selling camera’s but who got usurped by the digital camera which had detrimental effects on their business.
I would love to hear your comments on this topic. Emma