Business Type C-Store Chain Rest. eGrocery Indie Rest. Manage Marketing Operations Tips & Trends 3 min read

Define your target customer in 6 simple steps. 


The most essential part of any successful business? Happy customers, of course. And in order to get happy customers, you need to make sure you’re catering to the right ones. Defining your target customer will help you attract more of them, and it’ll also help guide almost every aspect of your business, from location and product offerings to pricing and marketing. So, what kind of information do you need to hit that bullseye? Here are some helpful tips to help you gather the goods.  

  1. Assess your current situation. 

First things first, to find out who wants what you’ve got, study those who already enjoy it: your current customers. Once you understand the defining characteristics of your existing base, you can go after more people like that. Get a sense of who they are by using the info you already have at your disposal when they engage with your brand, like newsletter sign-ups or in-house surveys. You can also spend some time just hanging out to see who’s walking through the doors and what they’re buying. 

  1. Scope out the competition.

Another way to get an idea of who your target customer is? Make a visit to your direct competitors and take some notes. Here are a few questions to help you get started:

  • What are they offering?   
  • What are their prices like?
  • How’s the atmosphere? 
  • What’s the tone of the menu and advertising? Formal or fun? 
  • What’s the general age range of the customers?
  • What are those customers ordering? 
  1. Scan your socials. 

One of the great things about social media is it can give you a great idea of who’s interacting with your brand, even if they aren’t your customer yet. Monitor who follows you and whether they like or share your content. Then look for common characteristics, like age, location, and general interests. Once you know those details, you can use that info to attract other like-minded individuals who aren’t yet on the (insert your business here) train. 

  1. Focus on focus groups. 

One of the best ways to gauge what potential customers want from your business is to hear it directly from them. Create a survey and send it to current customers. Better yet, invite a small group of your top customers to come in and have a roundtable about your business to get their feedback in real time. The great thing about in-person groups is that you get to hear different perspectives, experiences, and opinions first-hand. These interactive discussions can provide great insights into your business to help you lock down the target. 

  1. Create customer characters. 

The best way to distill that info down into something you can actually wrap your head around? Customer personas. These are fictional, composite characters that represent your customers based on all that rich research you just compiled. If you can visualize who they are, it can really help you speak to them. Here’s an example:

Meet Socially Conscious Sarah. A 28-year-old graphic designer who values ethical and sustainable practices. As an eco-friendly consumer, she seeks out businesses that align with her values and practice environmental responsibility. She appreciates menus that feature locally sourced ingredients and vegetarian options. She also enjoys sharing her experiences, good and bad, on social media and will promote any business that aligns with her choices. 

  1. Keep tabs on the latest trends. 

Once you’ve defined your target customer, you can better understand what they want and how to cater to them. What kind of products does that age group prefer? What kind of incentives will attract them? What qualities are they looking for in a business? For example, right now Latin food is having a moment with 45% of Gen Zs saying that it would be their #1 choice if they could only eat one type of cuisine for the rest of their lives. Sustainability is also a big one, not just with this group, but Canadians in general, with 72% of them saying they prefer to shop at food retailers with strong ethical practices.  

[Source: RestoBiz. What are your restaurant customers looking for? Article April 3, 2023]

[Source: Convenience Store News. What’s on the horizon for Canadian convenience in 2023? Article. January 9, 2023]

Now that you’ve pinpointed your ideal customer, you can better understand what they’re looking for. And you’ll know how to speak to them to get even more through the door.

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