To beat established brands with longer legacies and deeper pockets, challenger brands have to work harder and smarter.
If you’re finding success as a challenger, you already grasp the importance of understanding your audience. But you need to delve deeper than demographics to discover which prospects are most ripe for the taking.
Gaining a holistic view of your audience’s passions and motivations is key to understanding who to target and how to connect in an authentic way.
Let’s take a look at the process for discovering your customers’ psychographic behaviors and statements. Then we can use those interests and motivations to reach like-minded people in your competitors’ audiences.
Understanding what motivates your customers
To illustrate this process, I’m going to use clothing brand Everlane as our challenger example.
Founded in 2010, the company sells quality basics and cuts out middlemen to keep costs competitive. The products are backed by branding that prioritizes quality, ethics, and radical transparency.
Attributes of Everlane’s target audience
First, you need to understand your audience and what they care about.
People who have expressed interest in Everlane are into fashion at a rate 85 percent higher than the average U.S. adult, but it’s not their main priority, according to our data.
Instead, they have a greater interest in art and design, which becomes even more compelling when paired with strong affinity scores for home decoration, beauty, and wellness.
It’s probably safe to say that engaged Everlane fans are committed to maintaining a pleasing aesthetic across the various areas of their lives — not just with their clothing.
Get their thoughts instantly without custom research
Next, let’s dig into their apparel lifestyle statements to see how they think about clothes shopping.
We can use our Total Consumer View offering to marry data points from Simmons’ National Consumer Survey to Everlane’s audience, as measured by Helixa, thanks to our exclusive partnership with MRI-Simmons. We could also use MRI lifestyle and buying statements to a similar effect.
Here are some of the statements they agree with the most.
Despite the fact that Everlane beats several competitors on pricing, they are still attracting an audience that really desires name brands and the status that they offer. The brand’s commitment to quality seems to have paid off.
A potentially surprising finding is the audience’s affinity for fashion experimentation. These fans may head to Everlane for their staples, but overall they are more likely to be early adopters who go for a more unique look.
This psychographic data tells a more full story of why consumers choose Everlane than demographic info ever could.
Find new customers using interests and motivations
Now that we know more about what motivates the average Everlane fan, we can look for people who fit that profile. Competitor audiences are an obvious place to start this search.
J.Crew is seen as a well-established competitor of Everlane’s. As a sample of one who has both brands in my closet, I can confirm this with authority.
We’re going to use data from MRI to bring in offline behavior and build an audience of consumers who recently shopped at J.Crew, for comparison purposes.
Find opportunities in your competitor’s audience
To find the absolute best opportunities within J.Crew’s customer base, we first need to isolate the attributes that are most likely to correlate with a higher affinity for Everlane.
To do this, we can take the psychographic traits from earlier and find the ones that resonate with Everlane’s fans at a much higher rate than with J.Crew’s customers.
These traits exhibit some of the largest differences.
Next, we’ll create an opportunity segment within the audience of J.Crew customers that matches all of the following characteristics:
- They don’t already follow Everlane
- They agree that a designer label improves a person’s image
- They agree they are among the first of their friends to try new styles
- They are either art appreciators or design lovers
Understand who is in the opportunity segment
When we break down the demographics of the opportunity segment, we can see which segments within J.Crew’s audience are most likely to match our psychographic persona.
Women are overrepresented in the opportunity segment. Even though Everlane already does well with women, it seems they are the best poaching opportunity within J.Crew’s audience.
Let’s look at the top age groups as well.
There is a spike within the 35-44 and 55-59 age groups, which might be an interesting campaign for Everlane.
So when looking at the J.Crew audience, Everlane’s best poaching targets are women and those age groups.
Figure out what the opportunity segment cares about
Since we don't want to rely on demographics alone to find these prospects, we explored what the opportunity segment cares about at a higher rate than the average Everlane consumer.
The opportunity segment is more likely to include career-oriented consumers. They’re also interested in travel and pets at a higher rate than Everlane’s core audience.
This knowledge can help Everlane create messaging that connects with this opportunity segment in more authentic ways, by tapping into their interests.
Reach your competitor’s customers
Now that we’ve identified the best Everlane prospects within J.Crew’s audience and the things they care about, we want to reach them in the most efficient way possible.
Again, this is especially important for challenger brands working with less resources than bigger companies.
Because the opportunity segment and Everlane’s audience are both full of readers, according to our platform, let’s take a look at the prospects’ favorite magazines.
According to the MRI media consumption data from Total Consumer View, the top opportunity for an Everlane print ad would be The Atlantic.
Fashion magazines take up much of the top 10, but there are some other interesting opportunities that would be hard to find through other methods, like Martha Stewart Living.
You can repeat this with the prospects’ favorite websites and TV shows, and leverage Helixa’s social data to get at niche and new opportunities.
Everyone loves an underdog
As the underdogs in their given industries, challenger brands have a great story to tell. They’re easier to root for and more agile than legacy competitors, which means they often have an easier time connecting authentically with consumers.
The right tools and processes can help you move faster and stretch your marketing resources. After all, it only took about 15 minutes to pull all the data you just saw, and we did it without ever leaving the Helixa discovery platform.
Ryan is the Marketing Communications Manager at Helixa, where he leads content strategy from the NYC office. He believes in a lot of things, but never ghosts, guilty pleasures, or his Florida Gators’ offense.