August 2020 archive

Profiling Ideal Customers: The Lake Entertainer

Profiling Ideal Customers

This post is part of a series describing customer segments that are especially valuable to retailers. For each group, we’ll break down their unique characteristics, what kind of brands could benefit from getting in front of them and how they could be identified.

The Lake Entertainer

Today we’re going to take a closer look at a creature native to my own land of Minnesota and its 10,000 lakes: the cabin owner. In and around the Twin Cities, it’s fairly common for well-off families to own or have access to a cabin within a few hours’ drive. For families lucky enough to have a lake place, many weekends in the short Minnesota summer are spent at the lake.

Each lake is different of course. But some common themes emerge when considering what it’s like at a Minnesota lake in the summer.

Social Expectations

Lake places are made for gathering and lake place owners often invite friends and family to the lake. Summer doesn’t last long in the upper Midwest and weekends are precious. As a host there’s an obligation to entertain guests well, including making memorable meals (usually some form of barbeque,) campfires and lake toys for splashing in and around the water. This means that hosts are especially interested in products that are capable of creating a wow factor with guests.

There’s a kind of spending justification that can go along with this too. For a lot of cabin owners, they take on the expense of buying and maintaining a lake place because it allows them to spend more time with those they love. Splurging on the little extras that might make that time more enjoyable is easy knowing that these opportunities are precious and fleeting.

Zany Atmosphere

At the lake, the vibe is casual punctuated with the odd and outrageous. A cabin can be a place to express personality with bold decor choices that wouldn’t fly at home. And when it comes to entertainment, the weird and the extreme can come out in the form of homemade contraptions, bizarre themes and outsized dimensions.

There is a one upsmanship involved with other groups around the lake that can magnify this effect. Again, any product that is bold enough to stand out, or unique enough to represent a personal passion, has a good shot at the lake.

A High Lookyloo Factor

One of the best ways to enjoy the lake is by boat. We can divide motorized boat traffic into a few major types. There are fishing boats looking for smallmouth bass and northern pike, parents in ski boats pulling kids on tubes, jet skis zipping around in circles and a handful of powerful wake setting boats full of young adults blasting music while wakeboarding or surfing. But the most ubiquitous boat found on the water has got to be the slow moving pontoon boat.

Pontoons on White Bear Lake (Pioneer Press: Ginger Pinson)

Pontoons excel at creating a comfortable cruise for groups of up to 12 people of all ages. The classic plan when filing onto the boat for a pontoon ride is to set the throttle just above idle speed and crawl along the perimeter of the lake, enjoying the sun and gazing at all of the impressive lake houses.

These floating platforms make for all kinds of conversation, but eventually the talk usually revolves around what other people that live on the lake are doing at their place: cabin improvements under way, the boats they have, their towables and rest of the lake toys they’re using.

This creates a natural kind of window shopping experience for cruisers, as well as a “keeping up with the Joneses” effect. The scores of pontoons doing laps each day represent a uniquely potent environment for word of mouth marketing.

Meet the Lake Entertainer Buyer Profile

Stir these factors together and you’ve got a valuable prospect profile for relevant brands in a context for free spending.

  • Higher than average household income
  • Cares about entertaining friends and family and wants to impress neighbors around the lake
  • Considers the lake a form of ‘vacation mode’ which can lead to looser spending choices
  • Readily influenced by other lake owners in close proximity and able to affect referral purchases
  • Open to impulse buying of niche products that are personal or outrageous as a form of self expression

Product categories that should seek the Lake Entertainer

There is a huge range of products that could apply to this buyer profile. Here are a few example categories.

  • Personalized decor and entertaining items
  • Tools for cooking for a crowd e.g. pellet smokers, Yeti coolers
  • Bizarre inflatables and towables
  • Outdoor entertaining gear, especially drinkware
  • Products for documenting the weekend e.g. action camera

Reaching Lake Entertainer Prospects

So what are some ways to find these valuable buyers? A few suggestions.

  • Tax records can provide mailing addresses at popular recreational lakes for mailings or for matching with identity resolution services
  • Using Facebook, target fans of products that are mostly dedicated to maintaining a lake place such as ShoreMaster docks and lifts.
  • Run social contests to incentivize user generated content from customers
  • Offer to sponsor lake association events with cash or in-kind donations
  • Enter a float in the local 4th of July parade
  • Create an email newsletter with news and stats by lake

That’s it for this installment of Ideal Customer Profiles. Enjoy the summer while it’s here!