CUSTOMER FIRST: WHY CUSTOMER IS KING .
I’ve worked with a lot of brands over the years and one of the earliest lessons I learned was the importance of your customer. Not only is it crucial to identify your customer from a design and product perspective but also brand and user experience. In my first job out of university, I remember being told whilst working on an artwork for a print to go on a T-shirt;
“When you get to a stage of design where you feel like you would happily wear it, then you’re nearly there”
The only problem was, although I loved and admired the brand I was working for, I wasn't actually in their customer demographic. It wasn’t a case that I didn't like the brand or their clothes, but at the time it was too mature for me. It’s something that has always stuck with me, but as a young designer at the time, I struggled to apply that logic to a product I couldn’t entirely relate to, I just simply would never wear it. I quickly learned that to be a successful designer, you need to remove your personal barriers and put on your ‘customer hat’. Approaching design through the eyes and attitudes of your customer is a skill that all designers need.
However, don’t forget the rest of your brand and customer experience! With an increasingly overcrowded marketplace and the increasing economic power of millennials and Gen Z consumers, being successful isn’t just about well designed product anymore. It’s about the experience. Therefore, your customer needs to be at the centre of everything you do. From your tone of voice, to your marketing campaigns and platforms you engage on. Having the ability to put on your ‘customer hat’ and see your business through the eyes of your customer will put you in a good piston to succeed.
HOW TO DEFINE YOUR CUSTOMER:
There are many elements to defining your customer, but a good place to start is researching their demographics. Consider the following points:
Gender - or perhaps non-gender
Location - are you looking to grow a domestic or international customer base?
Income - how much disposable income do they have, therefore, what are they willing to pay?
Once you have your demographic pinned down, you need to consider the psychographics; you might want to think about:
Their style - are they casual or smart, minimal or maximalist, comfort or style driven etc
Their beliefs and values - perhaps they are advocates of sustainability
Where do they shop? Which brands do they already buy into and can this give you some learnings and insight into product options?
Where do they socialise? What do they do in their spare time, or where is their online presence?
What sort of lifestyle to they lead? Are they globetrotters, city dwellers or countryside lovers
Once you’ve conducted research into these areas, you should have built a good picture of your customer. Of course, there will be variations and nuances across your customer base, but it’s good have a reference point and to continually reassess and address if you are still fulfilling your customers needs and wants.
So if you feel like you’ve hit all wall or you’re too absorbed in which ever area you are focussing on, take a step back and put your customer hat on, it will make you see things differently!