Catalog Conference Speaker: Segment Customers by Behavior, Personality Types

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ORLANDO, FL - Segmenting customers into various behavioral and personality types will help catalogers and retailers better market to them, said Kelly Mooney, president/CEO of interactive agency Resource Interactive, at the catalog conference yesterday.

For home products retailer Restoration Hardware, instead of dividing customers into one or two segments by the amount they spend, Columbus, OH-based Resource Interactive separated them into five different personality types. One was a shopper who does not have a large income, but is willing to spend money on smaller items, such as knobs for cabinets. Another was a luxury customer in waiting: he is in a career that would catapult him into higher spending levels and will likely splurge on one large item, Resource Interactive found.

"Customers were blurred into one customer type: we've been working with them on very distinct customer types," Mooney said.

To determine how customers purchase and use products, interviewing shoppers should go beyond typical focus groups, Mooney said. To determine Bath and Body Works' shoppers' personalities and purchase habits, Resource Interactive gave each participant in consumer research a "beauty journal" in which they tracked their own behaviors and habits for about five days, including beauty products they use and "how they feel in the morning," Mooney said.

During research conducted by her firm for Restoration Hardware, consumers were presented with several magazines and asked to pick up publications that appealed to them. In addition to noticing magazine preferences, such as "Budget Living," researchers noted which ads they viewed.

"It's amazing how they drop into buckets just by ads they respond to," Mooney said.

Restoration Hardware research participants were also urged to bring information on their current projects, which is another good way to determine product preferences and buying habits. For many, this included catalogs with Post-it notes along with hand-written notes about their upcoming home renovation project.

Since many people "don't reveal their true selves" in a focus group setting, Mooney suggests interviewing them in their homes, at a coffee shop or another location.

"We invite intimacy," Mooney said.

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