Whether your business has been operating for years, or you’re new to the scene, predicting consumer behavior is crucial in ensuring your promotions are well-targeted and yielding the results you want when it comes to your sales and business goals.

Consumer research can help you identify things like what your customers are buying, when they tend to shop, how often they purchase, and how much money they spend on transactions. Understanding the reasons consumers interact with your products and others’ and other habits they engage in, will allow you to think like your consumer and create a targeted marketing experience.

Here are some ways you can predict consumer behavior to improve your business practice and better promote your product:

1. Your customer will tell you what they want – listen!

Anyone that’s ever worked in the service industry is familiar with the phrase, “the customer is always right.” I’ll admit, sometimes I find this notion to be a little unsettling because it perpetuates the idea that consumers dictate producer output. I think it’s just a catchy way to let producers know to listen to their customers.

Consumers are often vocal about their likes and dislikes (such as in product reviews) and will share products they love and promotions they’re interested in through their social channels. Pay attention to trends and common behavior as indicators of your next move. Additionally, you can use surveys and interviews for a more methodological approach to studying consumer behavior.

2. Not your customer? Target them.

Those that don’t buy your product are just as important as your loyal customers. If you’re wondering why you should spend time targeting people, it’s because they have buying potential. These potential consumers may want what you have to offer (in theory), but they need to be convinced to do so.

In my case, as a baker, a lot of my clientele comes to me “just because” but those that reach out during special moments like weddings, baby showers, and birthdays pay a premium for personalized baked goods. My audience may not buy my product all the time, but knowing that they will eventually have an event they need baked goods is a reminder that I need to pay attention to my potential special occasion client.

3. Don’t forget the analytics.

Predicting consumer behavior often relies on digging into web, social, and business analytics as a means of forecasting. In my cookie and cake business, I noticed a spike in order inquiries whenever I announced I was not available for orders (I know, ironic). Studying the correlation between low stock and high consumer demand of my product helped me shape my practice to ensure the demand is still there when I’m actually selling products.

Analytics also help you understand when consumers are online and buying your product, which can inform things like when you should have your next sale.

Prepare to Predict

If you’re planning on taking your business to the next level, you need to understand the behaviors of your consumers. While Benjamin Franklin wasn’t a marketer, he was on to something when he said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Sure, you can wing, but when you prepare to predict – that is, the behaviors of your consumers – you are ensuring that your business practice is intentional and catered to those who will eventually purchase your product. I’ll leave you with a quote of my own: don’t fail to plan, but prepare to predict.

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