What Your Customers Really Want

If you’ve been in business for any period of time, you may think you know what your customers really want. We draw our conclusions from past experience of what our customers have purchased. We tend to look at the the most popular colors, styles, and sizes. On the surface this is a logical, but not necessarily accurate conclusion.

This type of purchase analysis is mostly based on simple observation. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, we can go much deeper. Doing so helps us to gain a broader understanding of the true motivations of our customer base.

As an example. The guy that goes to the hardware store to buy a 1/4″ drill bit, doesn’t really want the drill bit. He really wants the 1/4″ hole that results from the use of the drill bit. Further, he really wants the result the 1/4″ hole will enable for him. And so it is when people buy printed t-shirts. They really don’t want the shirt with the message on it, they want what the results that come from wearing the shirt with the message.

While this may seem obvious, the implications go much deeper. Let’s ask ourselves what are the benefits of a message on a shirt? It’s a form of media and the message is seen by many people when the shirt is worn. At least that’s what the customer hopes for. In reality, the message is mostly lost because the graphic design element is so weak that the image is nothing more than visual noise, resulting in it blending in with everything around it.

The lesson for us is to make sure the graphics, colors, and body style are sufficiently powerful enough to garner viewer attention. The graphics don’t have to be complex or multi-color, but they do have to be striking enough so as to stand out. But this simply isn’t enough.

The second element of the garment graphic is that it has to tell a story. The old Chinese saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is absolutely right on. Yet, most apparel graphics don’t tell a story. Their message is shallow and often unclear. Remember the person wearing the shirt is presenting a message to the viewer. How is that message going to connect with the viewer? Is there an emotional bond? Is it working on a deeper level than the obvious advertising and basic facts it presents?

When you dig deeper into the end motivation of your customers, you put yourself into the position of selling more, selling more effectiveness, and selling results. The garment and the graphics are a means to an end. When you get clarity as to what that end is, you end up selling much more to the customer to satisfy their desired end result.


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