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Your Customers' Customers


Disciplines > MarketingUnderstanding Customers > Your Customers' Customers

Customer myopia | Customer type | Customers' customers' customers | See also



Not only should you understand your customers, but you should also understand and respond to their customers too. Failing to do this is failing to understand and serve your customers.

Customer myopia

Many companies are rather short-sighted when it comes to customers as, while they pay attention to their own customers, they often completely ignore their customers' customers.

When you miss paying attention to your customers' customers you miss a great deal of information about your customer. You also miss opportunities to serve them better and for them to become more loyal as you help them to become successful in their business.

Considering the focus you have on your customers, it makes sense that your customers act in similar ways. Yet if your conversations with them leave out their customers or show a weak understanding, they may well be forgiven if they think you do not really care too much about them.

Customer type

It is a mistake to think that your customers' customers are like your customers. Are you just like your suppliers? Probably not. For example, they may deliver quickly as your needs change, but if they have many stable customers and you are small, then agility may not be a big thing for them.

Companies serve other companies and retail customers by providing services and products that are different from other offerings. They may be cheaper, faster or are supported in different ways, depending on their customer needs and budgets.

Analyzing your customers' customers can explain a lot about your customers, for example:

  • Their focus on low cost.
  • Their demands for particular quality levels.
  • The need for speed of delivery.
  • The ability to customize products.
  • The dynamics of their marketplace, including market growth and competitive pressures.

Customizing for customers' customers

If you can understand your customers' customers, then you can shape what you deliver to them to best serve not only them but their customers too.

Imagine having a conversation with your customers in which you demonstrate a remarkable understanding of their customers, including their focus on cost, quality and delivery as well as new product types. Your customers may be surprised and probably will be delighted that you are taking such an interest in them and their business. They may help you improve your understanding as they tell you more about their market, customers and business plans.

All this moves your relationship with your customers from a supplier-customer arrangement to a stronger trusted-partner collaboration. It also sharply improves customer loyalty and helps drive your growth.

Customers' customers' customers

Not only should you understand and play to your customers' customers, but you should really look all the way down the supply chain as far the final retail customers.

With a detailed understanding of all downstream customers you can shape your strategy, products and services to create ripples of success for everyone in front of you. For example a spring manufacturer may examine their lamp-manufacturer customers and the wholesalers, retailers and consumers beyond this. They may note that a fashion for angle-poise lamps is building and so develop a set of springs that can be used in such products. They may also note cost pressures in wholesalers and include a cost-reduced version.

See also

Business Segmentation Variables


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