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Defining Your Customer by Consumer Type

By: Anna Lempereur-Moine
Posted: June 11, 2008, from the November 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

In the age of instant information available at everyone’s fingertips and a constantly changing retail landscape, it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify and understand who exactly your consumers are and what they are looking to purchase.

Understanding the needs of today’s consumers is the key to developing a successful retail marketing strategy. These needs can be defined as products, services or companies a customer requires in order to achieve specific goals or objectives. Typically, these conditions are nonnegotiable, but some may have options or varying degrees of importance. Another roadblock arises when consumers don’t have a clear grasp of what their needs are or how to attain them. Assisting them in determining these needs is a valuable service to your customers.

The purchasing population is divided into segments based on a number of characteristics. Typically, they are defined by an age range—such as Generation Xers, baby boomers and tweens. However, I believe that it is easier to define consumers by their purchasing habits, because crossover often occurs between age groups, as well as among the informational, environmental and personal factors that influence their purchasing decisions. The complex consumer landscape can be segmented into four personas: Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS), UberME, WeRfamily and ValueSeeker.

LOHAS

LOHAS consumers represent 23% of the U.S. population, according to the National Marketing Institute. Defined as conscientious consumers, or “cultural creatives,” these educated shoppers make conscientious purchasing and investing decisions based on strong social and cultural values. Their beliefs include the following.

  • Sustainable economy. Building with green materials, using renewable energy and resource-efficient products, choosing alternative transportation, and advocating for environmental management.
  • Alternative health care. Selecting natural health and wellness solutions, naturopathic medicine, holistic disease prevention and complementary medicine rather than traditional practices.
  • Healthy and ecological lifestyles. Consuming natural, nutritional and organic foods, beverages and dietary supplements; purchasing organic and recycled fiber products, as well as ecological home and office products; using environmentally friendly appliances; and choosing ecotourism and travel.
  • Personal development. Purchasing products that focus on the mind/body/spirit connection, such as books, CDs, and spiritual spa products and services, as well as incorporating yoga into a fitness plan.
  • Socially responsible investing. Supporting companies with ethical business practices, social responsibilities and sustainability efforts.

Marketing products to this type of person should focus on honesty, integrity and truthfulness. They care more about what they are buying, and thus pay a great deal of attention to the product ingredients, the company’s business philosophy and the brand’s dedication to the environment. The LOHAS consumer also will continually educate themselves and remain active in promoting their beliefs throughout the community. They are more likely to approach spa-going as a wellness activity. It is vital to appeal to their sense of a mind/body connection and to offer them unique ways to achieve balance, while doing good for others.