The Key Question to Ask Your Fans

Understanding why your fans love your brand is essential to creating a quality playbook for exponential growth.

Understanding who they are is less important but critical to critical aspects of execution. Founders new to consumer-packaged goods often focus only on who loves them and assume they understand why they do.  

In CPG strategy, who is like the soil in your garden. Don’t think of who is like a giant mosh pit of disconnected individuals. In human terms, the strategically valuable who represents specific social groups who are tightly interconnected, collaborative worlds with shared values. These shared values should connect to the vital outcome(s) your brand offers consumers (i.e., them). Therein lies the real why behind your brand’s growth.  

Just like a garden’s soil varies in its compatibility with specific plants, social groups differ in their relative receptiveness to your offering.

‘Why’ your fans love you is a different thing. It’s about the causal mechanisms of purchase, which are, in turn, connected to specific tactics to drive persuasion (package, social media ads, demo table conversations). In my experience, it is much, much, much more important to figure out ‘why’ specific consumers prefer you over the other brands first and only then determine the social groups where the people who get the ‘why’ exist in high density. Is ‘vegan-cred’ your number one, differentiating purchase driver among most of your fans? Then, vegan niche marketing will be fruitful…at least initially.   

Over time, the social networks required to grow your business will change. They will get less sophisticated in general. The ‘why’ behind your growth will also then change. 

Every 2-3 years, it’s worth understanding if your heavy-using fans are now driven by a different ‘why’ than before. This kind of consumer audience transition is typical as a brand scales, and the ‘cool kids’ move on to the latest cool brand. It’s also possible nothing may have changed, depending on the size of the initial social niche you tapped.  

Usually, the evolution of your consumer base is ahead of your perception of it as an operator. You don’t have time to hang out with your consumers all day long. But please don’t forget to check in regularly. 

Interested in finding out more about the Scrappy Consumer Research for Founders course? Sign up for the Oct 20th FREE Top Tips for Fan Research webinar, where you will learn about my most popular course and also a few top tips from the course. You can’t make it? Register anyway, and we’ll send you the replay of the webinar.

Dr. James Richardson

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