Many businesses assume their target customers’ needs through market segmentation, or “the division of customers into groups based on demographics such as age, ethnicity, gender, zip code, income level or education level.” But customer profiles can fall flat when they assume a person’s interests, desires, and lifestyle based on the boxes they filled out on the census. A shortsighted customer profile strategy can make your consumers feel excluded or as though your product or service isn’t meant for them, even if they see a clear benefit from your product in their lives. By taking a more inclusive approach to building customer profiles, you can attract consumers from marginalized backgrounds who don’t usually see themselves as the target audience for a product. Here’s how you can take a more inclusive approach to your customer profiles.
Build your customer profiles based on the purpose or function your product or service is intended to provide. While most people use lotions, shave creams, hair dyes, and skin care products on a regular basis, many of the designs of these products needlessly feed into arbitrary gender distinctions. Women have been using Just-for-Men to tint their brows at home for years. There are plenty of women out there stealing their husband’s electric razors, and more and more men are becoming fans of self care. We all “break the rules” sometimes by using something meant for a different gender, age group, or ability.
Another way to be more inclusive in your marketing campaign is to consider addressing stigmas of your target demographic. Some of the most popular marketing campaigns are designed to spark dialogue about stereotypes or stigmas within a certain demographic. The Is it ok for Guys campaign by Axe addresses toxic gender expectations that men face. Another brand who is changing the way they see their consumers is Always, who recently took off the female symbol from their packaging to be more inclusive of trans men who use their products.
An additional approach to moving past exclusive customer profiles includes the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to customize a consumer’s experience. By personalizing a user’s experience based on their personal history, companies are able to market on a 1-to-1 basis with every consumer. This highly personalized approach would be impossible 20 years ago and requires that users consent to data sharing at some point, preferably early on. Even if a company successfully includes this kind of personalization in their marketing, it’s still important that they maintain an inclusive mindset toward customer profiles.
Humanity doesn’t consist of individuals or demographic labels; it consists of a diverse range of people who live complicated lives and have complex relationships with identifying as their race, gender, age, physical ability, or sexual orientation.
One of the best ways to create a more impactful marketing strategy is by building a diverse marketing team. If your goal is to have a better understanding of dynamic customer profiles, consider evaluating how inclusive your marketing team currently is. By using more inclusive approaches to branding, you can expand your reach and connect with potential customers that you might not anticipate enjoying your product.
Bianca Gonzalez is a queer, disabled, Latina B2B writer and social change advocate. She became a brain cancer survivor at the age of 20. Find her on Twitter at @ourstellarwords, Instagram at ourstellarwords, and on her website, b2binclusive.com.