If I had $1 for every business owner who thought he/she knew their customers very well, I’d be wealthy and retired at this point. The sad reality is, most businesses think they know their customer, but their perception is almost always inaccurate (and sometimes by quite a bit).
I once worked with an established retail business in Rochester, NY that sold men’s fine clothing. They were convinced their clientele were, on average, “male, 50 years or older, from the eastern suburbs, wealthy and watched prestigious networks on television like CNN.” While that seemed plausible, I still conducted market research analysis with two main goals. The first was to verify their customers’ demographics and the second was to research the media consumption of the actual demographic.
When the data was tabulated, it showed their customer base to be much younger and less affluent than they thought. As a result, different television networks were a better fit. Imagine their shock when I demonstrated how their advertising would be more effective (and cost-effective) on MTV instead of CNN!
Since seeing is not always believing, the client wanted to stick with the media plan involving CNN. I was able to convince them to incorporate MTV into the plan as a trial, and suggested they simply ask customers if and where they saw their television commercial and keep a manual tabulation next to the cash register. At the end of one month, MTV had a 3x advantage over CNN.
Seeing that MTV was significantly less expensive than CNN at the time, by concentrating on the proper network for their customer base, they could cut their ad spend, double their advertising frequency and triple (at minimum) their impact. Now that’s what I call bang for the advertiser’s buck!
If you own a business, how well do you think you know your customer? If you haven’t conducted market research recently, I’d suggest there are many things you could learn.