Every brand has a superhero. No, not the genetically enhanced or otherworldly kind, but a specific consumer; one that is ferociously loyal, and emotionally and economically involved in a brand: the infamous super-consumer.
What Exactly is a Super-Consumer?
The super-consumer is a gold mine. They fall in the common space between heavy users and engaged users. This intersection is important, for a super-consumer isn’t necessarily a brand’s highest-volume buyer — super-consumers aren’t exclusively defined by their purchase quantity. These brand “superheroes” do buy a lot, but they are also emotionally invested in a specific category and brand, usually rooted in nostalgia (their first soda was a Coca-Cola and it was given to them by their father). They represent ~10% of your customer base and ~50% of your profits.
Take a car owner, for example. A super-consumer in the automotive industry wouldn’t necessarily buy 5x more cars than a normal consumer, but they are more likely to upgrade their car 5x quicker. This example super-consumer would of course be loyal to a specific car manufacturer (Porsche), and most likely a specific car model (911 Cabriolet).
According to Eddie Yoon of The Cambridge Group, out of the 140 categories of business analyzed, he found that all 140 had super-consumers. Eddie hypothesized further that there isn’t an industry where the super-consumer doesn’t exist.
What does this mean for your business? Well, it means that you have super-consumers. The question is, what are you going to do with them? When most business owners look to grow revenue, they commit time and resources to capturing new customers. The idea being that more customers equals more money, but those business owners don’t realize that instead of looking out, they need to simply look in.
There’s a flawed notion out there that loyal customers are “tapped”–they’re at purchasing capacity. But just because a consumer has purchased everything you offer doesn’t mean that they don’t have any value left to give. Who better to spread your influence via word-of-mouth? And that’s not all your super-consumers can give you:
1. Let Your Super-Consumers be Your Brand’s Superhero
If you don’t embrace your super-consumers, they can’t help you. To start, narrow down your customer base to those who buy most. This segment includes your super-consumers, but it isn’t exclusively filled with them–remember, a super-consumer isn’t just a heavy buyer. Though, if you market properly to this segment, you might turn the outlying heavy buyers into gold mines.
How should you market to them? Simply ask them to promote you via social media and in their day-to-day conversation (archaic, I know). Your super-consumers won’t need much encouragement. They already love you and have probably already spread the word about you. That subsection of solely heavy users though, they might require a little push. A free or discounted offer will work wonders because who doesn’t love a deal? We’ve all done ridiculous things for $25 gift cards. After receiving a free book or a 50% discount on your service for a month, those heavy users will be willing to do nearly anything for you.
And who better to sell the benefits of your business than those who interact with it most. With a little push this newly found super-segment will begin to sell the benefits of your business without you having to do much more than send an email. Being super-consumers of your brand, their stories will be rooted in emotion. Think of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign or Apple’s “Think Different” campaign: they tug on emotions, and they are freaking powerful. Give your super-consumers a little shove and enjoy the effects of your very own grassroots advertising campaign.
2. Discover Their Innovations
So you’ve started to capitalize a bit on your super-consumers. They’re out there spreading your message to the public. Now it’s time to focus on how they’re using your product or service to groom your own innovation.
Kraft had accepted that their Velveeta product had minimal growth potential. But with the help of Eddie Yoon, Kraft found that Velveeta had a hard-core following of fans. They made up about 10% of buyers and over 50% of profits–sound familiar? To re-energize the Velveeta campaign, Kraft began targeting these 10%-ers by researching how they were using Velveeta in new and interesting ways. What they found is that many of the innovations being made by super-consumers had been publicly launched by Kraft in the past to a mild reception. Kraft was on the right path, but their targeting was all wrong.
“The previous thinking was that the quickest, easiest path to growth was to identify light users or lapsed users. But when we talked to super-consumers, we learned that in fact they wanted to use Velveeta more–they were starving for it.”
-Greg Gallagher, Marketing Director at Kraft Foods
Kraft originally thought that the key to Velveeta’s growth was to target the casual user and get them to buy more, but after some consumer research they found that their super-consumers were craving more “liquid gold.”
How does this apply to your business? You undoubtedly have fans who are starving for more of what you provide. Stop ignoring them–embrace their insatiable cravings. Give the people what they want.
You’re probably thinking, “okay I get it, super-consumers are valuable. I’ve found them, I’ve targeted them, and now they’re tapped right?” Wrong.
3. Always Test
You should always be testing. If you aren’t, this new super-segment that you’ve found is a great place to start. They are the best audience you have for testing the waters with new innovations in your product or service. Unlike your mother who can’t help but tell you that you’re perfect, and unlike your jealous cousin who thinks everything you make is garbage, your super-consumers will tell you exactly what they think without a hint of conditioning or judgement. These are your die-hard fans. They want you to produce your best so that they can buy your best.
Innovation performs better from the super-consumer outward. Take the Kraft example: they had attempted to roll out new ways of using their Velveeta cheese and the public didn’t bite. When they took a step back and found their super-consumer core, what they discovered is that their passion consumers were creating similarly innovative ways to use Velveeta. Kraft augmented their targeting and saw a reception greater than anything they had received in the past simply because they started with their core audience and moved out from there.
You have a prototype–offer a free sample or a beta version to your super-consumers. Let them play around with it and watch the unsolicited feedback roll in. When they inevitably tell you how buggy your product is, or how ineffective your new piece of advice is, you’ll be thankful that the general public never saw that inadequate version. Also, these insights will allow you to redirect your strategy and solve issues dramatically quicker.
Slightly refocusing your efforts back onto your super-consumers will bring in those new customers you crave–an additional benefit: the super-consumer bug is contagious. So get out there, find your super-segment, and market the crap out of them. Don’t ever underestimate the passion of your super-consumers, and remember, they are never “tapped.”