Gathering customer data and research is vital in your business planning preparation. The first step in this process is to get inside the head of your customer, or a customer you might have. Why do they buy their products from a particular location (yours or elsewhere)? How do they come to make that decision? How do they feel after their purchase?

Begin gathering this information by interviewing people. Start with yourself, your family and your friends. You may find that these people give you enough information to fully understand your customer. If not, you will need to interview your neighbors and others you meet on the street.

Make sure that you are honest about your intentions when surveying others. Let them know why you are asking them the questions, and how you will use the information they give you. As an extra assurance, provide them with your business card and contact details, so they can be comfortable with your requests. Be sure to fill in the questions for them. By conducting surveys in this manner, you increase the chances of getting more information from the interviewee than if they had completed the survey themselves. Ask questions in an open and neutral manner, so you get their response in the most truthful way.

As before, we have produced two samples to help you in preparing and using your Buyer Behavior survey. The first is a copy of Steve’s questions and his summary of the results. The second is a downloadable sample survey that you can use. Simply fill in the details in a word processor like Microsoft Word, print up, and you are on your way.

Download your Buyer Behavior Sample Questionnaire.

Here is a copy of Steve’s questionnaire:

Top Shelf Groceries – Buyer Behaviour Survey

Hi, my name is Steve Ferdinand, and I am the owner of Top Shelf Groceries, and we are researching the way people choose to buy grocery products. Would you mind answering a few questions about how you choose and buy these types of products?

  • How do you gather information about grocery products?
  • What type of situation leads you to buy grocery products?
  • What are the criteria you have for choosing the store to buy from?
  • Who influences your decision to buy the products you do?
  • How do you feel after you make your purchase? Are you happy with it? Why?

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer these questions.

Top Shelf Groceries – Buyer Behaviour Survey

Steve asked everybody he knew, and some people he didn’t, about their grocery shopping habits. These were his results:

How they gather information about grocery products – My customer looks through the local paper to see if there are any specials on. They will ask their friends and neighbors for any recommendations as to where they should buy their fresh food from. Because I do some advertising, and am listed in the phone book, they can gather my details from seeing my posters and signs around town, or from flyers I mail to letterboxes.

Another area they get information from is their own memory. If they have shopped here before and liked the experience, then they will remember it when they need us again.

Situations that lead to buying grocery products – My customers usually buy from me because they have a number of occasions they need food for. These are:
* Normal weekly food shopping
* Special foods for a meal with friends
* Specialty items that cannot be ordered from a larger store
* Last minute shop – to get something they forgot before it is too late

Criteria of choice – They have a selection of criteria that stores are measured by. These were:
* Customer service
* Ease of parking
* Range of products
* Friendly staff
* Good quality food
* Value for money
* Convenient shopping

Influences on the decision to buy – This depended on who was buying the products. If it was the mother of the household, then the family’s preferences and the children’s behavior had a direct impact on what they bought and when they bought it. If it was a younger shopper, then the choices that their friends made had an impact on their purchase. I also found that price and quality impacted on their choice. Not always would the cheaper versions be selected. If the customer perceived or had experienced better quality from a different brand, then that influenced their decision.

How they feel after they buy – Many of my customers, and customers that buy grocery items, feel good after a purchase, so as long as they felt they received value for money. That might come from buying items on sale, or receiving exceptional service.

Interpreting the Data

Having gathered the information you should have a clear understanding of what motivates a customer to buy your product or service, and why they would chose to buy from you. This data will be used in developing your marketing plan. Your advertising, sales promotions, customer service and other areas will all make sure that the needs of your typical customer are satisfied. This is the surest way to build a profitable business.

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