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Retailers: How to find your target market

Retailers: How to find your target market


It’s a common problem among clothing retailers: You want to market to everyone. After all, everyone buys clothes, so why limit yourself by going after a single demographic? But in trying to appeal to so many people, you run the risk of becoming bland. By asking some helpful questions about your customers, you can pinpoint the ones you’re best suited to serve.

Who are your products for?
When you decided to open your own store, you likely did so because you’re passionate about what you’re selling. Nevertheless, you should assess your products and determine who they’re for. Some aspects might be obvious, such as whether you’re items are primarily for men or women. But others might not be so readily apparent, like what age groups or subcultures the products appeal to most. Beyond that, you’ll need to know what needs your products fulfill from a standpoint of style, utility and even cultural relevance.

Whether you already have your store set up or you’re still in the planning stages, here are a few questions to ask of your products and target market:

  • How old is my ideal shopper?
  • To what subcultures does my ideal shopper belong?
  • How do my products fit into the shoppers lifestyle?

Entrepreneur magazine recommended another good option: Taking a look at your existing customers and using that data to refine your future marketing attempts. If you’ve already set up shop, make a note of who comes in. What do they buy? What is their reaction to your design and layout? Depending on the situation, you may even ask them a few questions yourself. You can also send out a questionnaire if you have a mailing list.

Know the marketplace
Once you’ve got some responses about your customers, let’s look at the other places they might shop. According to Forbes, you need to study the competition. Let’s say you’re in the market to sell women’s handbags. If you’re located in Pleasantville, USA, you should take a tour of the other handbag shops located in your city. Take some notes – who else is in the shop? What are the prices? What do you notice about the quality of the products? Make a note on everything that seems relevant to you. This information will be essential for targeting customers at your own store.

Let’s stick with the handbag example a moment longer. You’ve decided you want to sell handbags to a target market of women between 30 and 60 who belong to a subculture of workaholics. From your research, you’ve learned that these women value utility as much as they do fashion. You’ve also learned that they are willing to pay a higher price for quality, which they can spot at a glance. Already you should be able to see how valuable this information could be. It may effect your pricing decisions, inventory and even the kinds of visual displays you use.

Design for success
When you know your audience and can draw some high-level conclusions about them, you can design your store with purpose. For example, would your target audience respond better to a boutique table set with curling accents or a sturdy cherry table set? Similarly, would a patterned form cover attract their attention? These may seem like small details, but when added together they create an environment that reflects the sentiments of your customers. When a shopper is comfortable, they’re more willing to stay and buy.