The 4 Different Types of Customer and How to Shape Their Experience

Marketing Insights for Professionals

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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 4 Minutes

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 four categories. Each of these responds well to different marketing strategies, and considering your personas in this manner could help you unlock new audiences.

So what are the four types of consumer, and how can you market to them? All the information you need to get started is right here.

1. The loyal customer

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 per cent 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 one per cent of retail website customers could generate up to 40 per cent 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 per cent of consumers have received some kind of reward or incentive that was personalised to them. Over half (56 per cent) of this group said this improved their perception of the brand. Furthermore, around 75 per cent of those who had received a reward said it made them feel respected as a customer.

2. The bargain hunter

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 per cent 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 per cent of shoppers would change stores if they found a better promotion elsewhere, and GfK MRI discovered that almost half (49 per cent) 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 per cent 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.

3. The reluctant shopper

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


4. The impulse buyer

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 per cent 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.

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