The 5 Different Types of Customer and How to Shape Their Experience


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

There are plenty of different types of consumer, and the best marketers will know how to appeal to whichever personas are relevant to their business.

Article 7 Minutes
The 5 Different Types of Customer and How to Shape Their Experience

Every marketer knows that there is no such thing as a homogenous audience. Every customer is different, and they need to be targeted in different ways. There are plenty of ways of dividing up a target market, and most companies have set personas based on the interests and demographics of potential consumers.

However, you can also divide customers up by behaviour. On a basic level, most consumers fit into one of five categories. Each of these responds well to different marketing strategies, and considering your personas in this manner could help you unlock new audiences.

Why customer profiles are so important

Effective targeting and personalization have grown in significance for marketers in recent years. Research has shown:

  • 71% of consumers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal
  • 91% of people are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations
  • 72% of customers say they only engage with personalized messaging

Customer profiles are an essential part of the journey towards effective personalization. They're your first step towards delivering truly relevant, engaging messages and marketing content to your customers, based on your understanding of characteristics like:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Income
  • Job title
  • Buying habits
  • Pain points
  • What they want from your product or service

Once you have the fundamental elements of your audience profiles in place, you can start to think about what these traits mean in terms of your customers' key decisions and behaviors. For example, do their characteristics make them a good candidate to be a loyal customer? Or are they more interested in making one-off purchases when they have a specific need to meet?

It's worth doing some research into your audience and thinking about how they can be classified into different customer types. This will improve your ability to target and personalize your marketing to connect with them.

So what are the five types of consumer, and how can you market to them?

Overview of the different types of customers and their traits

Today, consumers are in control

Understand your customer’s journey, meet their expectations and improve their overall experience.


1. Loyal Lily

The first customer type to look at is likely to be the smallest group for most businesses. However, they will be responsible for more revenue than their numbers would suggest. These are loyal customers, and they spend an average of 31% more than the other audiences you might be trying to target.

Return customers are vital to consider in your marketing efforts, as they are so valuable. A Marketing Tech Blog infographic estimates that a loyal customer is worth about ten times the amount of their first purchase, while Internet Retailing found that 1% of retail website customers could generate up to 40% of turnover.

So how do you get these customers on board? The key is personalisation. Returning customers want to feel valued, and receiving individualised attention is one of the most effective ways of doing this. The customer will feel like they are important to your brand, which in turn will increase their loyalty and drive repeat purchases.

A survey from Virtual Incentives found that around 40% of consumers have received some kind of reward or incentive that was personalised to them. Over half (56%) of this group said this improved their perception of the brand. Furthermore, around 75%  of those who had received a reward said it made them feel respected as a customer.

2. Informed Isaac

Digital technology and the internet have given customers in both the B2B and B2C segments access to more information than ever before, empowering them to do in-depth research before committing to a purchase.

This has given rise to a new generation of well-informed buyers, who take the time to do price and product comparisons, read reviews, and collect as much data as they can on the product or service in question.

Research by the eCommerce Foundation has shown that 88% of consumers use the internet to do research before making a purchase, either online or in-store.

In the B2B space, the purchasing cycle is typically much longer than in B2C, so these buyers are likely to dedicate even more time to gathering information and insights before making a final decision.

The key to engaging with these well-informed customers is to make sure they're aware of your brand and what you have to offer early on in the research phase. If you've received positive customer reviews and testimonials, make sure they're showcased on your website and social media channels.

You might also want to produce some high-quality content for the consideration stage of the buyer's journey, which could be anything from expert guides and whitepapers (for B2B buyers) to webinars and product videos.

3. Discount Daisy

Sometimes called a discount customer, this type of consumer tends to be driven not by price, but by savings. The group is made up of people who might not pay $20 for something if it was full price, but would pay that same amount for the same item if they saw it was 50% off and originally worth $40.

While this group does have a lot of brand loyalty, it tends to be because they have found a retailer that has the best deals. MarketTrack found that 80% of shoppers would change stores if they found a better promotion elsewhere, and GfK MRI discovered that almost half (49%) of food shoppers would switch brands for a coupon.

Appealing to this customer base is simple: advertise sales and deals as widely as possible, in all the right areas. Once again, personalised offers are a good idea. Virtual Incentives found that 63% of consumers prefer these to be based on purchase history, so you could offer people discounts on similar items to those they have already bought.

4. Reluctant Richard

Many consumers have no love of retailers or the experience of shopping; instead, they make purchases purely to fulfil a need. This could be an upcoming event, a life choice or simply replacing an item that has become worn out. Whatever the motivation, these customers want to fulfil their need and then leave.

Simplicity and utility are therefore key, as is working out what your potential customers' requirements might be.

"In order to market to a need-based consumer, your marketing strategy needs to anticipate these needs effectively. That means utility-centric marketing, across multiple channels." - Julia Harrison of creative agency Beyond the Hedge


Positive customer service is also very important, as this can transform reluctant shoppers into loyal customers. If they dislike shopping generally but had a pleasant experience with your brand, then they will use you for their needs.

"Salespeople may not find them to be a lot of fun to serve, but, in the end, they can often represent your greatest source of long-term growth." - Mark Hunter of The Balance


5. Impulsive Ian

Finally, impulse shoppers. From ecommerce to physical stores, there are always consumers who require very little convincing to make a purchase. This is a growing group: in 2015, the level of impulse buying reached a five-year high, with 18% of people buying items from convenience stores that they did not intend to purchase.

One of the best ways to market to this type of consumer is to use optimism. If people feel positive about the future, they are more likely to make an impulse purchase.

"Impulse buyers are more social, status-conscious, and image-concerned. They may buy to make others think they are awesome." - Steve Olenski, Forbes contributor


The key to this customer's heart is therefore a positive marketing campaign geared towards making people feeling great. Social media is an invaluable tool for this, enabling you to broadcast an optimistic message to a wide audience.

Further Reading

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