Do Not Think Like Your Customers

What does it mean to think like a customer?

Which customer segment exactly?

How static is that thought, what else influence customer thinking?

Why should a  marketer think like her customer?

I will start with the last question and say, a marketer must not think like a customer but must understand what the customer is trying to solve with your product.

When a marketer thinks like a customer, they are just thinking how she would make buying decisions as a customer and not how her customers make their buying decisions. Besides not all segments think the same, which one do you want to focus on? Even within the same segment customers think differently based on the purchase occasions. Their thinking is also not static, it is malleable through marketing.

Trying to project your shopping behavior or generalizing one customer behavior across all segments will lead you to make pricing and product mistakes and lost profits.

In a Times article on a small business, Crispy Green, that is addressing its growth strategies its owner Ms. Anita Liu said

I think like a shopper. What I don’t want in the middle of a recession is for prices to go up on a favorite snack.

In case of Crispy Green, the problems are more than just pricing, it involves understanding target customers, defining Go-To-Market strategy and ultimately what the business goals are. But focusing on the pricing problem, intuition and instincts are not the way to make business decisions.

Yes, some customers will not like price increases in the middle of recession, but will they stop buying? What percentage of sales will you lose (i.e., price elasticity of demand)?  Will the price increase deliver incremental profits?

Don’t think like your customer but understand what they want in their life and how your product can play a role.