According to Industry Canada and the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) on average, Canadian consumers are more highly educated than ever before. They went on to say that over the last two decades, the proportion of Canadians 25 years of age and older with some post-secondary education increased from 29 per cent in 1981 to nearly half (48 per cent) in 2001. Statistics Canada reports that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked Canada fourth in 2001 among member countries in the proportion of its working-age population with a university degree.
What does the statement above mean to a business owner? It means that you should never underestimate your consumer. They probably already have knowledge about you, your business and the competition. Today, we live in a transparent world where communication and information sharing have become a normal everyday occurrence.
Consumer behaviour and spending patterns have changed over the last decade because of the internet. A smart consumer has several different avenues to view what they want and they know what they are willing to pay and not pay for a service or product. They can compare prices and quality with just one click. In order to be competitive you must constantly be on top of your pricing, know who your competition is and understand what they offer.
Another factor that is important to the consumer is the experience that is attached to the service or product. In the past the experience included the personal touch but there were limited choices. Today there are so many choices and the personal touch has been forgotten about all together.
You need to ask:
- What is important to the consumer?
- What do they want?
- Does your product or service align with those needs and wants?
Gathering information and doing research will help you understand exactly who your target market/consumer is and how to reach out to them.
In order to understand the consumer and their habits consider the following points:
- Demographics (age, gender, education)
- Geography (where they live)
- Psychographics (how they think, feel and what interests do they have)
- Buying frequency (do they buy daily, weekly, monthly or for special occasions)
When the consumer has a good experience they feel the value and recognition and they will be back! Just remember there has been a shift and the consumer has a lot more power than in the past. As a business owner you need to become well educated, know your business and keep up-to-date with the trends, spending patterns and the social influences that help to direct the need and wants of the consumer.
One of the goals of the Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and give you the tools to achieve success. For more information about resources, services, business events and seminars, contact us by dialing 311, 1-866-442-5866, online at www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. You can also follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.