There’s no such thing as normal or loyal anymore

I’ve come to the conclusion that we can no-longer talk about ‘normal’.  Or ‘average’, ‘typical’, ‘loyal’, even ‘regular’ customers / shoppers / consumers / target audience.

You see, the customer, consumer or whatever grew up.  They got savvy.  The recession forced them to reappraise their shopping behaviour. They started visiting different supermarkets, haggling with furniture salesmen and searching for discount codes online.

Somewhere along the way, customers became super-loyal brand advocates (encouraged by perkonomics, loyalty schemes and the like) or super-savvy, prepared to give their business to whoever offered the best deal. 

The best ‘deal’ might be price, or convenience, or some kind of added value, but they still felt empowered to search around for it.  In fact they searched high & low, online and offline.  You could suddenly boast about what a great deal you’d discovered, rather than how much/little you’d spent.

cartoon by Tom Fishburne

So the upshot of all this is that I don’t belive there is an average ‘loyal Tesco shopper’ any more. 

There are super-loyal ones with Clubcard credit cards and shoppers who pop in if they’re passing or there’s a great offer on.  But not many “I always do my regular shop at Tesco” types.  Which (I imagine) is making focus group recruitment a bit of a nightmare.

This also calls into question anything TGI or Mintel might have to say about a loyal or regular (insert supermarket here) shopper as a) we’ve just established there is no such thing anymore and b) their data is usually months out of date by the time it’s published.

So how do brands and retailers go about understanding their target audience in The New (Not) Normal?  I guess generalist customer segmentations might be on the way out, with loads of sub-segmentation (backed up by epos data, social media feedback and so on) on the way in.  Its gonna be interesting…

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