Introduce Your Customers to Something They Don’t Know They Need
“Customers don’t always know what they want. The decline in coffee-drinking was due to the fact that most of the coffee people bought was stale and they weren’t enjoying it. Once they tasted ours and experienced what we call “the third place”.. a gathering place between home and work where they were treated with respect.. they found we were filling a need they didn’t know they had.”
-Howard Schultz , Chairman & CEO, Starbucks Corp.
The beauty of entrepreneurship and innovation is that you can view a situation from a customer’s perspective (after all – we’re all customers!), and create something based on your experiences of what you feel is an unmet need in the marketplace. Above, Howard Schultz articulates the point that sometimes customers simply don’t know that they need something. Tap into the emotional, physical, and motivational mindsets of customers to identify their most basic human desires and needs. Capturing and capitalizing upon these factors can catapult your business into the realm of indispensibility. When you are the sole provider of a unique product or service, you become a deeply important aspect of your customers’ lives. There are many ways to expand your knowledge about what customers want, so make sure you take advantage of them.
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t yet afford to shell out for a professional firm, go out and perform your own market research. Go to your local mega-mall with a notepad and jot down some of the patterns and behaviors you notice the shoppers engaging in. What are people looking for? What do/don’t they like about the stores they visited? Pay special attention to which customers are saying these things; note their gender, age, and any other easily recognizable demographic characteristics. If you’re comfortable, engage in informal conversation with these shoppers. This way you can better target your product/service concepts and marketing mix toward customers that will maximize your income.
Just like Starbucks found that customers wanted a “third place” away from home and work to be comfortable and get treated with respect, you can create a product or service that makes your brand and your company an indispensible asset in your customers’ lives.