Find Out Who Your Potential Customers Are Before It’s Too Late

Changes in society impact the products that we buy, how we shop, and who influences purchase decisions. In the end, these changes impact how products need to be made and advertised.

Rapid advancements in technology are increasing the speed at which society changes. The rate of change that we saw from one generation to the next could now possibly happen every few years.

Therefore, it is becoming more it important for brands to continually monitor whether or not their products and services are meeting the needs of consumers. Furthermore, it is vital that they make changes whenever necessary.

Women and Children First

No the ship is not sinking. At least we hope not. However, sometimes it might seem that way.

That said, if you have an established brand that is losing market share, it might not be a bad idea to check out who is purchasing and using your products and services (and your competitor’s products and services too.)

In his book, “What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping,” (affiliate link) Paco Underhill highlights how the changing role of women in society has influenced who is purchasing and using products and services.

As he points out, in some cases it might not necessarily be a shift in who is using the product or service. It might, if fact, be the case that the female head of the household may still be purchasing and using the product, but given further time constraints, the way the product is being used has changed. Therefore, the product or its advertising might need to be altered to better meet the current needs of consumers.

The role of children in the family has also changed in recent years. This is partly a result of the increased prevalence of technology and the higher comfort level that youth have with these new technological advancements.

In the book, “Gen Buy: How Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail,” (affiliate link) Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., and Jayne O’Donnell, point out that, “Gen Yers typically provide in-house tech support for their parents, which reinforced their stature as equals—or even superiors, at least in the IT department.”

They go on to point out that, “Previous generations had to pretend or humor their kids (“Let’s frame your Picasso!”), but in the case of this generation, their intuitive ease with technology and their ability to adapt to technological shifts is a genuine asset to any family.”

“Seeing as we all know better than to tick off the techies, the glow of this expertise has contributed to the confidence of this generation,” the authors of the book continue. “It also means that kids have more of a vote and more power in family decision making. That includes far more than technology and extends to things like vacation destinations, cars, and Dad’s outfits too.”

This doesn’t mean that we can totally ignore adult male consumers. It may be the case that your products and services are still being purchased and used by the male head of household. However, you won’t know this until you do the research.

Also, you don’t want to only cater to youth.  Baby Boomers can’t be ignored. As I pointed out in a recent blog post, there are a lot of them, and they have a lot of money and time to spend it.

Don’t Alienate Your Best Customers

In an effort to increase market share, you might decide to increase sales by targeting other demographic groups. This could be a good choice if you find that those consumers are already starting to use your products and services.

However, you do run the risk of actually losing more customers if you start appealing to other demographic groups. Unilever learned this lesson the hard way, albeit unintentionally, when middle school boys started using its Axe Body Spray in large numbers. This caused the brand’s target market, men aged 18 to 24, to lose interest because Axe Body Spray started to get the reputation as a “kid product.”

Therefore, before you choose to alter the product or the advertising to meet the needs of a different demographic group, you need to understand that it might result in decreased sales among the original target market. In some cases, this trade off might be an acceptable risk. Other times, not so much.

Final Thoughts

Gender roles have changed in recent years, as have the way family decisions are made. This could be influencing how consumers are using your products and services.

Rapid advancements in technology are increasing the speed of these changes. In fact, some technological advancements could have a huge impact on the who, where, when, why and how consumers buy and use your products and services.

As noted, if your brand is losing market share, you will want to see if other demographic groups have become potential customers.

The choice then is to decide whether to alter your products and services, as well as the way that you advertise those products and services to consumers.

However, the choice is not always as easy as you think, because you might end up decreasing sales if you alienate your existing customer base.

As with all business decisions, there might be unintended consequences to the choices that you make. Your best bet is to make an informed decision based on research and testing.

On the other hand, if you choose to completely ignore the changes that are happening around you, you might end up searching for your life boats.

Photo credit: Digital Sextant on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: