Rethink, Reward: When to Expand Your Target Audience

Researchers are trained to be strenuous in their approach toward innovation. They are constantly seeking new and efficient ways to improve the research process, source deeper insights, and gain the actionable key findings that represent the voice of their customers. Each decision has to be well thought out because making the wrong decision can result in poor research quality and loss of budget.

Large brands are often focused on pleasing and appealing to their current customer base. This is a fantastic best practice and drives “sticky” customers because brands invest in their loyalties and keep track of their evolving purchasing habits and previously unmet needs. We applaud these companies for keeping their current customers at the forefront of their product and marketing plans. But is there ever a time when you should rethink your audience?

Expand Your Plan

While it is always important to ensure that your research is engaging with and uncovering the evolving needs of your most active customers, it’s sometimes helpful to expand this reach outside of your most loyal buyers. This is critical for attracting new customers. These could be customers that are outside of your current scope including: people that don’t think your product meets their needs, individuals that may have never heard of it before, parties that are on the fence about the product and need that extra incentive to change, or even those that may be totally opposed to purchasing because of past impressions.

Of course not every study is a perfect candidate for expanding your audience reach, but there should be thoughtful consideration toward which studies could benefit from this widened perspective prior to the fielding process.

Here are a few tips that that will help researchers during their initial project discussion to help determine if it’s beneficial to include an expanded audience:

1. Are There Additional Customer Categories That Could Complement Your Target?

For example, products targeting specific demographics like young males, 18 – 24 interested in motocross/dirt-moto specific activities. Why not open the study to those interested in additional extreme sports like snowmobiling, BMX, skateboarding and mountain biking? This expanded customer base might have similar interests as the target demographic and could be attracted to the product.

2. Are There Other Demographics Subsets That Want to Be Like Your Target Consumer?

For example, products that are traditionally marketed toward higher-income level buyers can fall into this category. Luxury vehicle brands, certain clothing brands, or even high-end accessory items like purses or wristwatches might have specific attractiveness to those that wish to identify with or be perceived as your targeted buyer.

3. Do Other Regions Match the Consumer Tendencies Within Your Targeted Area?

For example, certain regions of the country or globe have similar demographic profiles. Someone that is looking to gather insights from only people within Minneapolis could run into incidence problems. But if you expand that search to other Midwest cities that have similar profiles you can match your demographic needs across a greater sample size.

4. Are You Looking at Consumers That Are Attracted to Brands, Features, or Categories That Are Similar to Yours?

For example, car companies run into these crossover situations. Someone that is interested in smaller hatchbacks packed with technology or safety offerings within a certain price point might not care if the car is made by Toyota, Ford or Volkswagen. Their mindset could very well be on the features outside of the brand and therefore they could be prime targets for your product offering.

When to Expand

While not every study should be a candidate for an expanded audience, it is always best practice to take a step back and consider, especially when your research might benefit from a fresh perspective. Who knows? New perspectives or an expanded view might just help you tap a whole new type of customer base that you may never have considered before.

Whether it applies to your target audience or to your entire innovation process, it’s always beneficial to seek new and better ways to tackle your research challenges.

Check out our recorded webinar on how Safeway was able to challenge the status quo and build a fast and effective innovation process by leveraging design thinking and agile market research!