Your customer needs are the driving force behind your business and sales. Did you know that 42% of all startups die because they work on products without a market need? A whopping 72% of all new products don’t meet their sales targets.
Ahh, you say. I’m in CBD or supplements. There’s a big need for my products and ideas. You’re right. However, you and I can’t make that decision for the customer. Instead, we need to put them in the center of the discussion table and build the product to meet their needs.
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I just read a quick snippet by the Head of Merchandising for a Global Lifestyle brand. It was about how they plan their product and their pricing. It’s very customer-centered.
“We are designing clothing for the woman who carries a Chanel bag.”
That one sentence says so much. They have honed in on a very specific client. They know exactly who this customer is, what she expects to pay for specific items, and what she is looking for. Quality and details like fabric are very important to their client. So they focus on these. Customer needs drive sales.
It’s not just luxury brands. It’s also fast foods.
Think McDonalds’...the happy place. Kids are happy and have fun. Parents get a break and know the kids will eat. McDonald’s entire setup is focused customer needs. Play area, kids meals, relaxed easy atmosphere, budget pricing.
Do you know your customer that well? Most businesses don’t.
For well over 30 years, I’ve been around a lot of skincare and cosmetic formulators. I’ve seen the good, not so good, and the “blah” in the middle.
They might springboard off something currently popular.
Most products come from an idea. There are a lot of these in the CBD, supplement, and beauty sectors. When done this way, it’s easy to miss the mark. It isn’t customer-focused.
You need to start with the customer’s needs. That merchandiser gets this.
One mistake I have seen repeated repeatedly...one size/product for all. One size never fits anyone well. If you try to make your product so generic it works for “everyone,” it plants a little seed of doubt. It never works equally well for different customer needs.
Quick example: a wonder product that works to take years off your face in only weeks and it will clear your young adult acne too. If it feels great on dry mature skin, it’s going to feel too oily on young problem-prone skin. If it works great on oily skin, it will feel like a mask on dry skin.
You build a product based on skin type, oil levels, risk factors, and skin needs. Acne skins need to be water-based and require non-comedogenic ingredients to do its job.
However, if you have a maturing skin showing signs of aging, 85-90% are going to need some oils to repair the skin barrier if you hope to have any look/feel of improvement. You need different formulas for optimum results.
A product designed to work for everyone...is probably little.
Maybe you don’t have the luxury at this point to design a product focused on a specific customer need. I get that. You already have your products brought to the market. So start with where you are.
To give your product the best chance for success, pause a moment, and recall what triggered its creation? How did that influence its ingredient choices? What are its specific attributes and benefits?
Don’t think features. A feature is what something “is.” Focus on benefits. Consumers want to know what it will do for them or how it will improve their life.
If you’ve had the product on the market a while, do a market analysis. How well do your buyers match with the group who is going to see the most benefits with the product?
What do their reviews say? Returns? Unsubscribes?
Once you can gather this data, analyze it. Look for ways to tweak your marketing and content. Let your best prospect know you have their best solution.
Once in a while, even an experienced company that thinks they know their customer well can have an challenge. Last year a firm that I’ve worked with for 25 years came out with a new product. They are a global leader in hair removal wax products with literally dozens of choices.
They came out with a lovely product designed to focus on a new marketing niche...those people getting tattoos. When a tattoo is to be applied, all the hair in the area is removed before work is started.
When they brought it out, I wondered how well a light powdery scented pink wax was going to go over. Women might like it, but pink could be a hard sell in a tattoo environment.
In less than a year, I learned that product had been rebranded and they were coming out with a new pre-tattoo wax product. When I saw the new packaging...complete with a skull and roses...with a dark charcoal bead, I had to smile. It looked more like wax for a tattoo.
The company responded quickly to the disconnect and repositioned both waxes to meet different specific needs. Both are popular with their target niche. The formulas? Very similar.
If you find a disconnect. Listen, learn, and respond/regroup as quickly as you can.
One of the best ways to prevent a product disconnect problem is to have a marketing team that includes a target customer.
A staff member might fit the target profile. Or they may share the same problem.
A marketing team having both men and women has also shown to get better outcomes.
An alternative option might be to solicit a superfan and interview them to gain ideas. Learn about them and you learn how to engage with more just like that person.
Build and share his/her success story. It’s one of the strongest ways to replicate your ideal customer.
They may be focused on a marketing number. However, if we don’t make sure the right product is matched to the right client we won’t get the desired results.
“I just need to get this live,” may feel like what you need to do. I’ve found if you don’t get the right message to the right person, you may have a pretty web page that won’t accomplish much for you. We look at their goals and try to make both short and long term plans to help them achieve them...even if they have to do them in increments.
Judith Culp Pearson receives three top honors
at the annual Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals in
Ft. Worth, Texas - October 7-9, 2023