The 9 Different Types of Customer and How to Shape Their Experience


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, May 8, 2023

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 9 Minutes
The 9 Different Types of Customer and How to Shape Their Experience

Every marketer knows that there's 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 behavior. On a basic level, most consumers fit into one of nine 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:

  • 70% of customers agree that how well a brand or business understands their individual needs impacts their loyalty
  • 84% of customers report that they'd be more likely to buy from companies that see and treat them as a human being rather than a number.
  • 72% of customers say they only engage with personalized messaging

Customer profiles are an essential part of the journey toward 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 9 common types of consumers, and how can you market to them?

IFP visual showing 9 different types of customer and their personalities

1. New customers

New customers refer to those that have bought your product or service for the first time. Usually, new customers will tend to engage with your content and message more and receive it more positively when they make their first purchase. That's why to need to ensure that you take advantage of every physical or digital touchpoint your new customers go through.

While first-time buyers can have particular needs, they also come with unique opportunities. This period is your best chance to reinforce the purchase decision, build loyalty and set the stage for repeat business. Moreover, because they're still discovering other brands and offerings at the same time, you have a higher chance to convert them into loyal and happy customers before your competitors do.

2. Loyal customers

The first customer type to look at is likely to be the smallest group for most businesses. However, they'll 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're so valuable. According to Zippia, loyal customers will spend up to 67% more than new customers, while Oberlo estimates that only 1.62% of ecommerce website visits convert into a purchase.

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

According to a recent McKinsey&Co study, 76% of customers said that one of the main factors that made them consider purchasing from a brand is the number of personalized communications they're receiving. A further 78% agreed that this type of personalized content would convince them to repurchase.

3. Informed customers

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 Statista has shown that approximately 70% of online shoppers usually read between one and six customer reviews before deciding to buy a product or service.

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.

4. Discount customers

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. According to Zippia, 83% of customers are more likely to keep buying from a brand that offers a loyalty program. In fact, 50% of consumers said their main reason for joining loyalty programs is to earn rewards and discounts on everyday purchases, which they consider crucial in their buying journey.

Appealing to this customer base is simple: advertise sales and deals as widely as possible, in all the right areas. Once again, personalized offers are a good idea. Smart Insights found that 90% of consumers are happy to share their data with companies if they're willing to give exclusive discounts on products they're interested in.

5. Reluctant customers

Many consumers have no love of retailers or the experience of shopping; instead, they make purchases purely to fulfill 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 fulfill their needs 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

6. Angry customers

While sometimes it can be unclear why people are angry, this type of customer is potentially difficult to deal with. It could be that they've had a bad and long day, are frequently disappointed by other brands or have just come across the same problem more than they should've.

It's undeniable that customers will get frustrated with you if you don't know your products or services perfectly to solve their issues. This is why it's crucial to have a solid strategy in place to handle them as it can make a big difference in how they respond in the future.

What's more, you should always strive to stay calm and speak clearly when faced with an angry customer. At the end of the day, the customer is always right, even if they're wrong as the consequences are likely to negatively impact your business. Try not to take it personally if the customer is being disrespectful and rude and remember that they likely see you as another random individual in a crowd that caused them a lot of problems.

One effective way to deal with frustrated and dissatisfied customers is by improving your social and empathy skills. In fact, you need to imagine yourself in your customers' shoes to be able to understand them better and support them.

Finally, try to find ways to collect feedback from these customer types as this will enable you to improve their customer experience.

7. Impulse customers

From ecommerce to physical stores, there are always consumers who require very little convincing to make a purchase. This growing group of customers is known as the impulsive customer.

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.

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

8. Insistent customers

These types of shoppers are very involved and do a lot of research before making a purchase decision and so have potentially tried other solutions before turning to customer service.

It's crucial that you provide evidence and facts of why your way of solving their issue is right when handling insistent customers. To facilitate the process, ensure you have access to relevant informational content you can share with them as tangible proof.

Don't forget to always stay polite and cooperative to satisfy their needs as these types of customers can easily become unhappy and angry customers.

You can also ask them to share their experiences on your website or your social media channels which is a great way to obtain user-generated content.


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9. Need-based customers

Finally, this customer segment tends to quickly make a purchase either online or in-store. They only buy what they need for a specific occasion and it's difficult to convince them to buy more. You must always remember that it's easier for other companies to attract need-based customers.

These types of customers are not particularly loyal to one brand. Therefore, positive personal interaction is crucial for retaining and converting them into loyal customers, especially since they can easily switch brands for convenience if they believe you don't have the best product for their needs. One effective way to attract need-based customers is by focusing on results-driven ads.

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