Step by Step Marketing - Getting to Know your Customers or Clients. Part Three: The 'Why'.

Welcome to the third in my series of articles to help you understand and get to know your customers or clients. Part One focused on segmenting your audience and the various ways you can do this. Part Two looked at language and gave a ‘toe dip’ into marketing and psychology.

Now we need to look at the ‘why’. Why do we buy what we buy? Some reasons are more obvious than others: if we run out of milk, we buy more milk for example. But why do we buy that milk from that particular brand? We need to understand why customers choose some options over others and, to do this, a basic understanding of consumer buying behaviour is helpful.

So what is consumer buying behaviour? This has been the focus of researchers and academics for decades and there are several definitions including:

  • ‘The study of the process involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use or dispose of products, services, ideas or experiences that satisfy needs and desires.’ (Solomon et al. (1995)); and

  • ‘A set of activities which involves the purchase and use of goods and services which resulted from the customers’ emotional and mental needs and behavioural responses.’ (Stallworth (2008))

From the above and other definitions, we can summarise as follows:

  • Consumer buying behaviour is the process of selecting, purchasing and disposing of goods and services according to the needs and wants of the consumers.

And marketing is all about satisfying the needs and wants of our customers.

So how do we understand the needs and wants of our customers which will lead to the why? Simple - we ask them!

There are various research techniques available to help us gain insight and better understand our customers and their needs/wants (as touched on in Part One when looking at segmentation). These include:

  • Qualitative research in the form of focus groups or individual interviews where we can probe for deep answers using small sample sizes. The answers we get are rich and detailed and can give us that ‘nugget’ for our headlines or angle for the narrative. However, as we’re only looking at small numbers, these answers can’t be generalised to a larger group.

  • Quantitative research in the form of questionnaires using large, representative groups either by phone, mail, door to door or online. Here we can assign numerical value to consumers feelings, beliefs and behaviours about products.

  • Webscraping which is a new technique and tracks what consumers have to say about our brands in real time.

This article only touches the surface of marketing research but I hope it gives you food for thought.

As always, I'm here for a no-obligation, informal chat so do get in touch! I have extensive experience in marketing research (insight, creative development and evaluation) and would love to help.

Please look out for Part Four in this series which will focus on where and when to speak to your customers/clients.

Best wishes