When Proctor and Gamble developed the Swiffer Wet Mop, the mop that sweeps AND mops your floor at the same time, it assumed its target audience was women who were fed up with the regular mops on the market and who wanted a more convenient one. When P&G started selling the Swiffer Wet Mop in Italy, they soon realized just how wrong they were. Sales in Italy skyrocketed. According to a Forbes article, “[P&G] thought the target audience was women who wanted a product with convenience. It turned out that [Italians] are far more interested in cleaners with strength, which prompted P&G to completely rework its messaging.” Once the company understood who their customers were, they focused more on appealing to them. Now Swiffer is a cleaning line that sells over $500 million per year not only in Italy, but worldwide.
Knowing not only who, but more importantly what, your target audience seeks is key to finding success in any startup business. This may take some market research, but taking the time for this will pay off in the end. According to Forbes contributor, Jayson DeMers, “The better you know your audience, the more effectively you can create appealing content ideas, make formats decisions, handle positioning and placement, and promote the content.”
How do you determine your target audience? I’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you determine who your audience is and what it is they are looking for.
Identify the Problem: Every product on the market seeks to solve a specific problem. This is the starting point of any great idea. Once you identify a problem to solve, you can better determine who might benefit from your product. In other words, don’t try to convince people to buy something that you say is a good product or service, sell them on you solving their problems for them.
Create a Customer Profile: Once you determine WHO your customer will be, start to paint a picture of who they are. Where do they live? Are they married? Are they male or female? What are their hobbies? How old are they? What do they care about? Keep the characteristics relevant to your product.
Survey Says: Considering your original hypotheses regarding your consumer, now conduct first a wide-scale survey, and then a more focused one. Your initial survey should be multiple choice over a large selection of your audience, which will help give you more hard evidence about their habits. Ask relevant questions such as how important your product would be to them.
Next, take a small focus group from your audience and survey them using open-ended questions. Perhaps show them a relevant picture to your product (or problem) and ask them how it makes them feel. Having both of these types of surveys will give you both quantitative and qualitative research.
Sample: Test your product on those in your target group and ask for feedback. Sometimes consumers don’t realize how helpful a product can be until they’ve actually tried it out. (Think Kirby in-home demonstrations.) Or consider the Reebok Pump athletic shoe, developed by Continuum. When Continuum first pitched the concept to Reebok about an inflatable shoe that could cushion the ankle better, further reducing injury, the brand manager for Reebok said they weren’t interested. Continuum then asked a high school basketball team what they thought of the idea, but they only laughed in response. However, when the boys were allowed to try an experimental model of the shoes during a practice, they were won over not only by the concept, but by the comfort. They were enthusiastic about the idea of possible reduced injury. That was the day the Reebok Pump was born.
Check out the Competition: What can you learn from them? What has worked (or not worked) for them thus far? What sort of messaging do they use in their marketing? More importantly, what can you do differently that will set you apart from your competition?
Listen to the Chatter: Social media is a market research gold mine. Hone in on what your consumers are saying and what they like or dislike. Often you will find some great feedback on how you can improve your product. Above all, be flexible and allow for the growing pains that accompany any business start. Allow a little wiggle room, even in the market research you conduct, as the market, consumers and the world are all ever-changing.
Once you identify your target audience, you will find better ways to connect with them. From advertising to blogging, keep the connection active and you’ll please the consumer with a great product and find success in bringing your concept to a reality.
“A brand is worthless if it doesn’t connect with the right audiences in a relevant way.”
– Cory Torrella
Tell Us: What has been your most valuable source of market research and why?