"During his presentation at the Health First Network AGM in Calgary, Howard Chang, president and founder of Toronto's Top Drawer Creative, told a gathering of natural health retailers that their ideal customer is the "evolved consumer." And he provided insight on how retailers can find this person, and then sell to them.
"With the evolved consumer, price is not the key. The key is product and service. The Holy Grail is insight: you have to get to know them. The evolved consumer is connected to the community. They believe in long-term relationships with friends and people they do business with. Research indicates 76 per cent of them are optimistic about their personal financial situation. Over 80 per cent of them think the environment will be or is currently our number one concern. They think globally, but 70 per cent shop locally. Also, they are very active in social media, as 67 per cent say social media influences their purchasing decisions."
Howard also said 82 per cent of evolved consumers say health is a major priority, while 85 per cent of them enjoy vigorous outdoor activity or exercise. "You'll also find 71 per cent are willing to pay more for organic and 76 per cent take vitamins or supplements on a daily basis."
So...how do you engage the evolved consumer? Howard says be authentic, as 'like trust like.' "Be an invested local expert, and be sure you have great brand ambassadors. Engage in 'micro-community' networks and deliver knowledge leadership, which is delivering the right knowledge at the right time to the right person." He suggests using Facebook to gain knowledge from your customers (and potential customers).
He also says a great way to reach this group is to blog. "If you can write, you can blog." If you can't write, Howard suggests, get one of your staff members to do it. "Write, share, post, publish, ask. Recipes are huge. Share."
Another way to reach this prime audience is to create community. "Social media is about relationships. Social media brings like-minded people together. Forty three per cent of the best retailers use blogs to connect with consumers."
Howard left the group with the following thought: "Seventy per cent of brand decisions are made in-store and 75 per cent of all purchasing decisions are emotional."
Rick Kroetsch said it is important for retailers to not only know their customers, but also know who isn't your customers, so it will be easier to find them and then eventually sell to them. He made this statement while addressing Health First Network retailers during the recent HFN AGM in Calgary.
Rick, the associate publisher of alive Magazine, said there are potential customers in every age group: its just a matter of finding out what makes them tick, then appealing to them. "Generation Y (people in their 20s) account for nearly 14 per cent of our population. They are comfortable with digital, are often on the go, and they seek convenient food options." He said they are a prime audience to buy ready-to-go-meals.
The next age-group â€“ those in their 30s â€“ also make-up 14 per cent of Canada's population, but this group is expected to grow in the coming years. Although many are content to remain single, Rick says many in this group will soon be settling down, and establishing households and families.
The group with the most potential, he said, is "the classics:" the middle-aged adults. "These people are typically in their peak earning years. They now have high levels of discretionary income and â€“ despite increased awareness of healthy lifestyles â€“ a great number of baby boomers are approaching 60 in poor health." He says this group is interested in buying products and services that they believe will keep them healthy and vigorous and allow them to enjoy their leisure time more and take part in many of the activities they were involved in when they were younger.
The over 65 group also shows potential, Rick said, especially as they become more computer-savvy. "The gap is slowly closing as more are discovering the convenience of staying informed."
The changing ethnic mix of Canada is also ripe for the picking, says Rick. "Today, most immigrants come from Asian countries and the Middle East. A report by grocery industry analyst Perry Caicoo estimated that over the next decade, about 70 per cent of consumer spending is going to come from visible minorities.
"It's important to build-up your inventory to meet the needs of all Canadians regardless of where they may be originally from."
He suggests keeping up with technology to reach these potential customers, especially social media. "Canada is one of the most Facebook-obsessed nations on the planet. Every day, 65 per cent of the nation logs onto Facebook, which in a month adds up to 479 minutes per person. And within that 65 per cent is 81 per cent of the entire 20 year old demographic. Businesses in every industry can attract more consumers than ever before. This is a huge advantage for companies and those who aren't on Facebook should start now."