Do I Know My Customer Base?

Posted: November 17, 2011

A few key concepts in understanding the customers we currently have and how to focus efforts as we change to meet their needs.

Know Your Customers


Do you know who your customers are today; who they will be ten years from now? Successful marketers strive to understand this simple, yet critical attribute. Consumers are constantly changing, from their ages and attitudes, to their incomes and ethnic mix. In order to successfully meet consumers' wants and needs, we must anticipate and respond to them before a demand for a product or service even exists. We will make some false starts along the way. We will also hit some home runs.


Keep In Touch

An advantage of direct marketing is contact with our customers. People seek the personal attention that is available from most farm retailers. The benefit to the grower is first hand knowledge of customer wants. Make the most of this direct customer contact. Ask customers to record their name, address and email in a notebook that is kept near the check out. Once a notebook is started, you now have a customer contact list. You can readily identify where your customer base comes from. This helps us stay in touch and maximize promotional efforts.


Customers will develop a personal connection to our market if they are kept informed through the use of a mailing list; either a post card or email. Is there a huge crop of melons coming ripe? Why not send an announcement to your regular customers? Offer a discount on quantity purchases. This type of effort is well received. It often helps move surplus product, and it establishes loyalty in your customers.


Keep Ahead

One way to prepare for tomorrow is to study change in consumer demographics. What do households look like? What do consumers like to do with their free time? Which consumers have the highest disposable income? What would they be willing to spend it on? How are these factors expected to change in the future?


Planning for the future is usually a guess. To increase confidence in this guess, try to base it on as much fact as possible. The amount of information already gathered and analyzed is staggering. The local library, township authorities, the department of transportation, and your Extension office can be possible sources of trend information. The internet is awash in statistical reports of every changing demographics.


Did You Know?

Here are general statistics from the Census Bureau. Remember, these are for the entire population. Try to answer some of these questions with the data that is specific to your customers. Starting in 2010, households without children under 18 outnumbered those with kids. Additional household projections we can expect are as follows: Couples without children, 32%; Women living alone, 17%; and Men living alone, 14%. Does my market mix appeal to any one consumer group?


Household income is highest for those aged 45 to 54. This age group also has the highest discretionary income. While many marketers target the ‘younger' generation, they may be missing the group which has the most money to spend.


The average person spends less than 50 minutes a day preparing meals. Those with a microwave oven spend 45 minutes, while those without a microwave spend 59 minutes. Clean up time averaged 7.7 minutes each day. How do my products fit into microwave preparation and easy clean up?


Time for Change?

I like doing what I know how to do. I find adapting to change is seldom comfortable. However, the efficiency of this adaptation can be increased by considering the possible developments of the future before they arrive.