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Who are your customers really?

makeupThe classic demographic segmentation models that have served retailers so well for so long are no longer enough.

Not only does omnichannel purchase behaviour mean that you can no longer assume journeys to purchase and segment markets by categories such as gender or location, but it means that if you really want to know your customers, it’s time to get personal.

By personal, we mean getting smarter with your customer insights to underpin the execution of informed retail strategies. By doing so, companies and brands are able to leverage their findings to innovate, communicate and drive more meaningful experiences surrounding their brand.

How many of you still put sentences such as “Target Audience: professional female, lives in CBD, aged 25-45 years old” on your marketing briefs or brand guidelines? I’m predicting a vast majority of you do. But what if you could split this ‘average’ demographically or geographically based ‘target audience’ into more meaningful personality types?

Personalities that enable you to understand who would use their smartphones instore or perhaps as their first point of contact with your brand; personalities who react predominately to, for example, brash and loud packaging cues; personalities who prefer to engage with you using certain social media or those who are much more likely to pre-research using a catalogue?

A recent TED talk by Professor Brian Little on ‘What makes you, you?‘ explored the differences between introverts and extroverts as an example of personality traits and the influence of the environment on these different personalities’ behaviours.

It got me thinking of introverts and extroverts in a retail environment. As Professor Little explains, extroverts seek stimulation, excitement, loud noises and buzz. Extroverts are those customers who queue up on the first day of sales to grab a bargain, or those who are not afraid to hit a shopping centre on a Saturday just before Christmas. When it comes to communication – for example, with a sales assistant – extroverts feel comfortable when they are close to someone they’re in conversation with; they like eye contact and a more mutual gaze.

Whereas an introvert, in many environments and social situations such as in a retail store, may be mistaken for being antisocial or uninterested. However, as introverts, they simply respond better to situations away from stimulation. While an extrovert prefers black and white concrete, simple language used in communication, an introvert responds to contextually complex sentences. This is the customer who does not like to be harassed around the store and pitched the latest sales offer, but would prefer to approach the sales assistant for an unbiased, honest opinion and develop a conversation around an item they may be trying on.

Have you considered how your brand ambassadors (ie, your sales staff), marketing communications and brand guidelines communicate to your target personalities, as opposed to merely your target audience?

Are your staff trained to communicate to extroverts when your store brand and ethos actually appeals to introverts? Professor Little’s examples are certainly a good starting point to recognise the importance of establishing and understanding your unique audience’s personality profiles.

Establishing this understanding and communicating these personality profiles throughout your business, from management to shop floor staff, means that you can tailor your communications, retail channels and innovations with a greater degree of success and far less wastage.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or Weston, co-author of this column, is part of Retail Doctor Group’s Retail Insights team and can be contacted via email at .

This article first appeared on Inside Retail.

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