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CUSTOMERS and CONSUMERS. These are sometimes, but not always, one in the same.

You buy a can of beans; you cook and eat the beans; you are both the customer and the consumer. But, If I am 6-years-old and badger you to buy me Chocolate Tsunami Cookies because “They Make Waves When Dunked in Milk,” and you buy them and I eat them — then you are the customer and I am the consumer.

In that situation, we are very different people indeed, but the bottom line to the Chocolate Tsunami Cookie Company marketing people is that I, the consumer, have influenced your customer purchase.

The monster corporations out there have monster R&D departments bursting at the seams with monster (3, 6, 9, and 12-month long)  research projects, and are busily preparing monster evaluations, assessments, analyses, executive summaries, and follow-up surveys and studies to support the research findings.

Many of these undertakings are aimed at identifying (in the case of the Chocolate Tsunami brand) which 6-year-olds in which towns are watching which TV shows, and who are most likely to influence their parents (or the most lenient or susceptable parent) to purchase the cookie brand on the next shopping trip.

Oh, and do they have the parent’s email address?


Small business owners know better

than to waste such time and expense.


They make the cookies, sell the cookies, gather feedback from some kids and parents, adjust the manufacturing (or pricing, packaging, promotion) and sell them again. All the while the monsters have no product. They are still doing statistical analysis of adolescent sugar intake.

But too often small business owners direct their marketing messages to the buying customers when actual purchase decisions are being made by the ultimate consumers and/or other influencers. [Women, for example, purchase more wine, but men are almost always the ones who specify what type and brand to buy.]

Small business owners often overlook that different messages need to be directed to different market targets. Parents buying cookies that they are pleaded with to get by their children may require a bit more rationality attached to the emotional appeal that’s focused on persuading the children.

“Making Waves When Dunked in Milk” may be a cute line for something named Chocolate Tsunami Cookies. It could probably attract attention and create interest for any age.

While a child may, however, simply buy into the slogan– Mom or Dad need to know that the chocolate and flour used are organic, or that every purchase comes with free quart of milk or roll of paper towels . . . or that they will be the talk of the neighborhood because their kids are the only ones who can’t “make waves.” 

The bottom line is that by focusing marketing efforts on customers alone risks losing potential business that’s generated by ultimate consumers.

Using the same message in the same ways doesn’t do it. 

KEEP your branding theme and slogan, but address different interests with different language in different media whenever your customers and consumers are different in age or attitude or responsibility or capability.


A handicapped senior may have primary concerns about the safety and ease of use for a stair-lift, while the family making the arrangements may be more focused on price, insurance coverage, and service warranty. The best way to cover all your bases is to ask customers and consumers questions, and keep asking. And Listening!


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Hal@Businessworks.US     302.933.0116

Open  Minds  Open  Doors

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