Luckily, I had the chance to attend a very fun and useful webinar held by the Lean Startup Machine a few weeks ago. One of the most amusing moments was when our remote instructor, Rafael Balbi talked about the importance of customer segmentation and suggested all young entrepreneurs to go find their own “Cookie Monsters” out there – in fact, those consumers who have the biggest potential to become interested in our product as early adopters and are eager to show ultimate engagement to the experience that we can provide to them.
I found this popcultural reference simply spot-on. However, customer segmentation is so much more than simply finding THE Cookie Monster. It’s about finding CERTAIN TYPES of Cookie Monsters, however similar they might seem at first glance. And it is not about their age, size, colour or shape. It’s about their ATTITUDES. Their DESIRES.
What truly matters is what they actually want, and it is very important to go out and talk to different Cookie Monsters to be able to pinpoint what makes them different on the inside. Whenever you find that you identified a customer segment for your product, you can’t sit back and relax. You should dig deeper and see whether you can find SUB-SEGMENTS with more precise needs and drivers, because the more special needs you can cater to (diversify!), the stronger your value proposition can be.
This can seem intimidating and let’s face it, a bit sweaty and exhausting. But it’s worth it. To make things easier, you might start by looking around on sites and forums focusing on your assumed major audience (e.g. in our case, people with a sweet tooth, generally engaged to the cookie category and preferably also open to form an opinion about it). You can start googling pages of dessert enthusiastis, self-made gastro experts, people that love posting recipes or photos of recent sweet discoveries, cool bakeries around the world.
You can also look up dedicated trend sites (like TrendHunter, Cassandra Daily) in order to collect inspiration and read about a bunch of current consumer trends (e.g. eco-chic, LOHAS, hipster, personalised goods, connectivity, the renaissance of local and natural products etc.)
Pay special attention to social media from Facebook to Pinterest and Instagram in order to ensure that you can stumble upon the stuff that are really valuable to you – international trends (as you aim to be culture-ag, aren’t you?), subcultural interests, opinion leader consumers who are open to new ideas. After some time, you can start to see patterns and hopefully you’ve already found some special consumer groups that seem to NEED, CRAVE or KNOW something SPECIAL. Maybe something you can provide?
In order to provide some examples for such customer (sub)segmentation possibilities, I conducted a quick, playful experiment. I chose some of the “consumer trend buzz words” mentioned earlier and tried to find relevant examples in the cookie category.
Note: this collection is a mixture of already existing products and consumer ideas, which can provide a great source of inspiration and best practice (and they can be useful when establishing a vague initial hypothesis). But we should never think that googling such examples is enough for us to know our consumers inside out: we always have to find the inner motivations, real thoughts by reading about them, talking to them, getting to know them as much as we can.
Let’s just consider it a game and see what potential sub-segments can be identified when you are a cookie manufacturer and what product ideas these special people might like. (Remember, it’s not about age, ethnicity, gender, it’s about attitude, behaviour.)
Hipster Cookie Monsters – They even have dedicated Tumblr-s.😉 (Sort of.) Yeah. We all know such kids.
Hipster Cookie Monster’s mo. Ingenious. You can actually find some similar consumer-generated examples on Etsy.com.
Pantone cookies. After Pantone mugs and such, a pretty sweet idea.
“Individualist” Cookie Monsters – whether online or offline, personalised goods are not preferred. They are required.
And for those control freakish gastro lovers that wanna make their own shape but do not want to play around with a sharp knife (how retro!), Cookie Caster offers customized casters that can be designed ordered online.
“Responsible” Cookie Monsters – you can probably find such people among local volunteers, drivers of hybrid cars, fans of farmers’ markets and regular donators.
The Dancing Deer Bakery Company donates 35 percent of each purchase of its Sweet Home line to an NGO that deals with homeless people and housing.
Baking For Good is even more progressive – 15% of their net profit goes to causes that people actually vote for. Democratic and altruistic.
These were just a few random examples. In fact, there are endless opportunities in the consumer world, subsegments with special needs, awaiting entrepreneurs just like you, no matter if you offer bytes or bites.