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Don't be tripped up by these customer research myths

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

By Jennifer Cook

We had some fun in Village Well's Future Customer webinar on March 28, busting some myths around customer research in property development and why we need to get up close and personal with our future customer. If you are very familiar with customer research you might find my favourite myths a bit obvious, but I STILL hear these at least every few weeks. If you already know these to be myths, sit back and bask for two minutes of the warm glow that comes from knowing better……

Future Customer webinar

Myth #1: “Tomorrow’s customer will be today’s customer, just older.”

Common in retail development, where the ‘average’ customer is females in their late 30s and 40s. And yes, core customer retention is critical. But if you are chasing marketshare and growth, the biggest potential may lie in attracting an entirely new customer for a product that didn’t exist or wasn't viable five years ago.

Myth #2: “All the research I need is catchment demographics and an economic demand analysis.”

Psychographics and lifestage can be a far bigger influence on behaviour then age or income. Averages can be very misleading and demand analysis - while an important piece of the puzzle - is not the complete picture. To put it bluntly – just because a person has the capacity and desire to spend, doesn’t mean they want to spend it with you.

Myth #3: “We know what customers want, we did a survey and asked them."

One of my favourite tools in the research bag of tricks, is an understanding of people's actual behaviour, rather than what people say they would do or like (or worse, what they think others should do or like). And if you don’t believe me, ask a group of people if they think it is a good idea to exercise three times a week and then find out definitively who actually does it. It's not useless information, and can be helpful to get very specific yes/no feedback, but I wouldn't make big decisions based on a survey alone.

Myth #4: “Sales are up, so the customer is satisfied - we don’t need to know any more.”

This has relevance for retail and residential assets – and there are two big risks in this assumption. One, if sales start falling tomorrow and you have no longer term understanding of your customer, how long will it take you to mobilise and do something about it? Secondly, today's choice doesn’t always mean you have preference. The flight to new quality can be fast and brutal!

Myth #5: “We have the future customer covered, we have a Gen Z on the team.”

It's common to hear “Millennials want this” and “Gen Z values that" – these are generalisations, insightful to a point and then they become a trap. There is so much diversity of thought and viewpoint within what is essentially an age bracket - don’t fall into the trap of making one person the unsuspecting flagbearer for an entire generation.

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