The myth of the average consumer

Whether you are running a business or a marketing campaign, ideally, you would prefer to target as many people as possible. Since by definition, most people are average (yes you are), the largest target market is the average consumer.

But, who is the average consumer? How do they make decisions and what are their preferences? Let’s take a look from the consumer's perspective.

How do you decide to dine at a restaurant? Is it the taste and food quality that matters to you or the environment you are dining in? Or maybe it's all about the price? Could it be the customer service or how far the location is?

For most of us, it's going to be a combination of factors that we use to decide to dine at a particular restaurant. For simplicity, let's just talk about just 3 factors. The food quality, the environment and the price.

Each of them will be graded on a scale of 1 to 10. 10 being the best and 1 being the worst. 10 in food quality means it's super tasty and it's best quality food you can find. 1 for price means it's totally not worth your money.

What would an average person rate a restaurant on these 3 scales? Since its a scale of 1 to 10, the average rating is 5. So is an average person someone who rates 5 across the board? Is an average restaurant diner someone who is looking for decent food quality, in a decent environment for a decent price?

If someone rated 5 across the board, his/her total points are 15/30. Sounds pretty average right? An average person probably only has 15 points across the 3 scales. But this does not mean it is spread out evenly. The most common scenario is that they would care more about certain factors more than others.

Some would prefer food quality of at least 8 and is comfortable with paying a little more for it. Some would put the ambient and environment first. Depending on personal preference, even though their total points may be average, everyone has a different threshold for different factors. In aggregate, they may be average, but their preference is by no means a simple 5 across the board.

This is something important to keep in mind if you are running a restaurant or a business or trying to market something. Appealing towards the average consumer is not as simple and straightforward as you think it is.

An average consumer is not someone who wants an average widget with an average quality at an average price. An average consumer is just someone who isn't completely crazy about something and demands an 8 on each scale.

An average consumer is someone who only have roughly 15 points to allocate across 3 1-10 scales and most often do not choose to distribute them evenly. To appeal to the average 5-5-5 consumer, is to appeal to no one.

The best strategy for businesses and marketers to appeal to more people is not by being average across the board. Instead, they should focus their effort on being the best at a few things and ignore the rest. Startups, for example, have limited resources and it is very hard for them to be best across the board. But they can choose to be the best in a certain angle and win over customers that way.

If you have a restaurant, either be the place with the best food in town or the one with the best price. Or you could also be the one with the best food quality and price ratio. And there are actually more than 3 scales to compete in. You could have the best customer services or be strategically located. Maybe, you provide free delivery service or allow customers to place their order online before they come. The possibilities are endless.

To attract more customers, you don't have to improve your product across all the different scales and factors. You just have to improve at those your target market cares about. Don't fall into the trap of appealing to the average consumer. It's a myth.