Leverage These Five Customer Types to Drive Sales

by Greg DePersio

5 min read

In retail, choosing the right approach for each customer can help you allocate resources wisely to improve your sales volume. Spending too much time on wandering customers makes you miss opportunities with ready buyers, and giving all your attention to new prospects leaves loyal customers feeling neglected. Instead of relying on a hit-or-miss strategy, learn to identify these common types of customer to get better results.

Loyal Customers

You want loyal customers to be your top priority, as they make up at least 50% of your sales. They value your products and promote their benefits to other people, helping you attract like-minded customers. Keep loyal shoppers happy with accommodating service, and make sure to deliver equally satisfying experiences to anyone they refer. Use feedback from loyal customers to guide merchandising, customer service, and marketing decisions. Long-time clients feel valued when you involve them in the decision-making process, increasing their loyalty.

Need-Based Customers

Need-based customers are on a purposeful mission to get specific products within a target price range. They may research product offerings in advance and avoid sticking around for impulse buys or upselling. Need-based customers frequently turn to online retailers or stores they know well, which can make it difficult to attract their business. The upside is these customers appreciate reliable, consistent products, so you can convert them into loyal customers by quickly fulfilling their needs. Make it easy for customers to get answers to all their questions about a product, such as price, features, and inventory availability, in one place. Impressing these shoppers with satisfying, courteous customer service can also keep them coming back.

Impulse Customers

Impulse customers are ideal targets for upselling, as their shopping lists expand based on what they see and feel in the moment. These customers aren’t purely driven by need, making them open to recommendations from staff. Impulse shoppers are usually less consistent than loyal customers, but their individual purchases may be higher. Keep this customer segment in impulse mode by making checkout processes fast and simple. Whether you have a physical or virtual storefront, place related products, promotions, and use suggestions in close proximity to trigger ideas and desires. For example, recipe displays with the ingredients stocked together are an effective tool for encouraging shoppers to buy multiple food items.

Discount Customers

Discount customers value quality but shop around for the best markdowns, making them a steady source of income and product turnover whenever you’re offering price reductions. They make frequent purchases and rarely buy products at full price, but trying too hard to please them with great bargains can take away a chunk of your profits. Discount customers resist upselling and move on when they find better markdowns, so you have to do some digging to find out which elements of the product or shopping experience are most valuable to each person. To turn discount shoppers into loyal customers, consider bringing added value to your products through attentive customer service, convenience features, or exclusive deals for repeat customers.

Wandering Customers

Wanderers may make up the majority of storefront traffic if you sell broad product categories or have a location in a conveniently accessible area. Many simply enjoy the social interaction or browsing experience of shopping, so devoting too much time to this group can draw your attention away from profitable customers. If you’re a niche seller, wandering customers most likely have a moderate interest in your products but no immediate intention to make sizable purchases. You want to avoid completely neglecting wanderers. They value positive interaction and may spread the word about good experiences they have with your sales staff. Although wanderers initially offer the least profit, you can assess their sales potential by asking more questions about their needs and making your customer service team available when they need help. Provide compelling facts about products they seem interested in to give wanderers more motivation to make regular purchases.

Utilizing the Stages of Adoption

Within the five customer segments, individual shoppers have unique priorities and base their decisions on factors such as budget, need, and status. People adopt products at different rates, and identifying influencers who readily offer input and try new things can help you generate positive word-of-mouth before major rollouts. Influential early adopters may be any type of customer but are most likely to be loyal shoppers with large social networks. In many cases, their feedback contributed to the product development, making them active advocates and promoters of your brand. Communicating frequently with these customers builds momentum, especially if you leverage their influence to demonstrate the value of your product to the majority. Featuring these early adopters in video reviews and product testimonials can win over customers who are initially wary or skeptical of something new.

Choosing a Strategy for Sales Growth

All businesses need new customers to survive and turn a profit, but loyal shoppers should always be at the forefront of a sales strategy. They surpass all other groups in sales volume and often enable a longer product life cycle by speaking favorably about what you have to offer. The products you stock and the new services you develop should also cater to loyalists, as they are more likely to stay with you if you continue anticipating their needs. On the other hand, you want to pay attention to the long-term value of discount and wandering customers. Some are late adopters who need assurance that a product is worth the price, but be prepared to accept that some customers remain unresponsive no matter the approach, so it isn’t worthwhile to keep lowering your price floor to accommodate them. Fortunately, the same value-add strategies you use to target loyal shoppers may convert some need-based, discount, and impulse shoppers into brand ambassadors. The most important thing is to collect accurate sales data to refine your marketing methods and leverage your customer base to drive more traffic to your business.

References & Resources

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