Latin Pulse is committed to staying at the forefront of all marketing trends and practices, and especially keeping our clients informed of these consumer insights and visionary marketing disciplines, including implications for the Latino market.

Your Target Consumer

What You Should REALLY Understand

 In today’s highly competitive world, there is a natural tendency to focus on the product or service, to somehow update it or improve it so you can stay one step ahead of your competition. This is a worthwhile endeavor, but often it can become a distraction to what should be the real focal point of marketing – your target customer/consumer.

The famous business writer, Peter Drucker, had a healthy perspective on what business success is all about. He said “the purpose of a business is not to make money; it is to create a customer and to satisfy that customer”. Marketing is indeed all about creating and satisfying a customer. We like the definition of marketing that emphasizes behavior: “marketing is the science and art of getting target customers to sustain or change their behavior in a way that favors your brand”.

Product enhancement is always a challenge, but so is defining your customer in a way that allows you to strengthen your brand positioning and create innovative marketing initiatives. The attitudes and behavior of consumers change all the time. For example, the new Generation Y (i.e. born after 1982) is so different from Generation X (born 1961-1981) and all other market ages/segments, with the internet a powerful influence on their expectations and usage habits.

Most marketers dwell on the obvious demographic and psychographic traits that immediately define their target customer for traditional advertising media. But in this ever-changing world of intense competition and miraculous technological advances, today’s marketer must go beyond these basic criteria to more fully understand their target customer. This includes meaningful benchmarks to effectively assess the value of certain characteristics and be able to monitor changes in the future.

Essential Criteria

For a complete profile and actionable diagnosis of one’s target customer, we recommend six essential criteria:

1. Demographics – a fundamental starting point, critical for segmenting the market to identify the highest potential target groups, usually defined by sex, age, household characteristics (e.g. ownership, years and value), occupation, origin, income, education, etc.

2. Psychographics – those particular psychological and attitudinal traits that can be researched and characterized to better understand what will drive certain purchase decisions – e.g. lifestyle, interests, values, likes/dislikes, preferences, etc.

3. Category/Brand Attitude Drivers – too often marketers define the attitudes of consumers of their brand by using descriptors that really reflect the basic category or “cost-of-entry” drivers. The result is that there is no special attitude in the target customer profile that will be different from what all other consumers in a particular product category expect and perceive, at a minimum. Instead, a target customer definition must go beyond the “obvious” (e.g. “trust and safety” for pharmaceutical brands) and be clearly distinct and relevant.

4. Category/Brand Usage Habits – the current usage is critical to assess, because ultimately all marketing efforts should be designed to modify the attitudes and change the expected behavior of target consumers, so a good category benchmark is definitely needed.

5. Indicative Behavior – it is relatively easy to research and list the most meaningful psychographics, attitudes and usage habits for the target consumer. However, it can be difficult to make this limited definition actionable for new, innovative marketing initiatives unless the creative people developing such programs really understand the exact type of mindset and behavior that characterizes the target consumer. To explain further, assume that a psychographic “label” for the target consumer of a health care product is “cautious medicators”. It would really help if one could visualize evidence of this profile with a specific behavior:

Example: “they take analgesic compounds only after trying other, non-medicating methods of relieving pain, such as lying down, taking a walk in the fresh air, using a heating pad, or getting a massage….”

6. Functional & Emotional Needs – at a minimum the target customer will be interested in the basic functional benefits from a product or service – i.e. “category drivers”. However, the more compelling dimension of a target customer need is the emotional side. It is becoming even more important today to determine precisely how the target customer currently feels about a current product, and even more critical, coming up with an insight that identifies what she/he yearns for that is not so recognizable now – e.g. a heart-felt feeling that would really satisfy the most demanding expectations and distinguish the product/service from competition. Once properly defined, these functional and emotional needs become the basis for re-shaping the specific benefit for the brand positioning of the product/service.

The task of understanding the inner passions and desires of today’s consumer is further complicated by the growing fragmentation of our society, especially the trend toward individuality and adapting to emerging bi-cultural values. This growing diversity can be a challenge, but with smart research one can find common threads that will link these emotional needs among different ethnic segments and age groups.

Sophisticated marketers are using innovative research techniques to dig deeper into these behavioral patterns and needs to identify new, relevant consumer insights. Discovering and then articulating a meaningful attitude or behavior that was previously unknown or under-appreciated can be a major challenge, yet finding new insights is vital for developing powerful, distinctive ideas for new products and/or marketing initiatives. One way of helping to understand what makes a valid, high potential insight is to view the word “insight” as having two basic dimensions: “in” for the attitude inside the target customer’s mind, and “sight” for the actual behavior (or sometimes non-behavior) that results from that attitude. Future Pulsadas articles will focus on the art of identifying and leveraging meaningful consumer insights to build strong brands over time.

The task of gaining a comprehensive understanding of the target customer, then monitoring changes in their attitudes and behavior, should be a high priority for a company that wants to maintain a competitive edge. Qualitative research can be helpful for developing initial assessments and hypotheses, but quantitative research will be essential for screening out and validating what characteristics accurately reflect the highest potential consumer profile.

For more information please contact:


Jay Gronlund
Latin Pulse USA
(212) 697-3181
Mario Quiñones
Latin Pulse
(513) 688-3032

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