Profiling Ideal Customers

This post is part of a series describing unique 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 Enthusiastic Hobbyist

I was introduced to an interesting guy during a trip out west years ago. He had such an intensely curious and forceful personality that I think of that trip regularly, especially as an example of a super valuable buyer type: the enthusiastic hobbyist.

Tim is a serial entrepreneur that lives on a beautiful property in the hills of Santa Barbara. He’s had enough success in his business ventures that he has all that he needs. Still, when I met him at his ranch in the hills he only wanted to talk about composting.

After a short greeting we were immediately led on a tour of his composting operation. Tim dove right in with an explanation without any prodding, obviously excited to share what he’s learned. In addition to showing off what he’s created with his new gear, he walked us through his journey of knowledge and what he plans to do next. It was obvious that he’d been binging on the topic and was bursting to tell anyone willing to listen all about it.

When we had a quiet moment I asked the colleague who had introduced us about his passion for composting. “That’s just his personality,” he replied. “He will be all-in on this for a while and will move on to something else in the next 6 months.”

Short Lived Passion

After meeting Tim I realized that he’s not the only one that burns hot with a new hobby. There are a group of buyers out there I’ll call the Enthusiastic Hobbyist, that are a marketer’s dream in a lot of ways.

Enthusiastic Hobbyists want to absorb as much knowledge as possible in a short amount of time. They aren’t looking to learn through trial and error or to root through discussion board threads for solutions. They want an trustworthy source of info that can lay out specific answers, not nuanced discussion with pros and cons. And when they’re in learning mode they want access to content on demand so they can binge.

If you offer them authoritative content on their topic, you can control the discussion around purchasing gear and services.

Quick Buying Decisions

Wealthy consumers are often confronted with the opportunity/obligation to make lots of choices so they can get up to speed. To make a good choice quickly, Enthusiastic Hobbyists depend on reviews. Having a healthy community management function will pay off.

Industry leaders also offer an easy way for newcomers to figure out what gear works best. Utilizing strategic sponsorships with influencers within your market can work great since mimicking them can be the fastest way to look the part of an serious participant.

Buying At a Premium

For newcomers like Tim, buying gear is a way to take a shortcut to achievement in their newly adopted pastime. A high price point is an indicator of quality for those that don’t know from personal experience. And more than that, buying the best at a premium price allows Enthusiastic Hobbyists to demonstrate commitment to the hobby to the community and to friends and family (and visiting work acquaintances.)

Word of Mouth Through Justification

Just like my new friend Tim, Enthusiastic Hobbyists can be great evangelists for their new community and for the vendor selections they’ve made. We humans like to justify purchase choices after the fact, especially when it’s an unusually expensive choice. Buyer’s remorse brings cognitive dissonance and we prefer to regard ourselves as effective judges of value. Explaining the excellence of the brand they’ve backed can help reinforce that the purchase decision was a good one and spreads the word as a side effect.

The passion that they have for the topic makes them likely brand ambassadors, at least until they move on to another obsession.

Finding Enthusiastic Hobbyists

Target passionate newbies online by looking for a new addition to their social media interests, or new accounts at dedicated discussion sites, subreddits and other knowledge centers.

Some hobbies require certification or other identifiable actions that indicate someone new to the activity. Recent or repeated rentals of expensive gear can indicate someone ready to go on a buying spree.

Sometimes one big purchase can lead to many others so purchase data can reveal new hobbyists. Also have a look at new memberships in owner’s forums like corvetteforum.com or festoolownersgroup.com.

Enthusiastic Hobbyists may not be numerous but to the retailer or manufacturer offering a premium solution within a hobby of lifestyle niche, they can be an important segment to cater to. And speed is of the essence since today’s current obsession will only last until the next one comes along.

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