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Here’s how to grow by learning from your most engaged customers

Superconsumers.(Harvard Business Review Press)

Superconsumers. (Harvard Business Review Press)

You’ve probably heard the adage: the customer is always right.

Superconsumers, a book by growth strategist Eddie Yoon, explains that a select few of your customers have the right insights for how your business can grow, if you can find them, engage them, listen to them, and then sell them something they want.

Yoon, founder of EddieWouldGrow, and a former principal at The Cambridge Group, a management consulting company that’s part of Nielsen, says “superconsumers” aren’t defined just by the amount of money they spend with your company. Rather, they’re classified also by their enthusiasm about a category.

Using data from Nielsen, Yoon says his company found that superconsumers, usually about 10 percent of the consumers of a product or category, can drive between 30 to 70 percent of that category’s sales, even more of the category profit and almost all of the product insights.

Superconsumers tend to buy more products at higher prices, but they can also help you innovate and market your products to other consumers.

Yoon introduces the concept of superconsumers in part one, and uses examples from his decades of work at The Cambridge Group to explain how a snack food company, a grocery store and a doll maker have engaged with superconsumers to grow their companies.

The snack food company didn’t think their cheese had strong prospects for growth, but then they met Laura, who was really excited about that cheese. To her, was not too viscous and not too solid; It melted well and stuck to broccoli, could be flavored, and the answer to a variety of cooking problems, especially when entertaining guests. Laura schooled the snack food company on the product’s versatility.

As Yoon explains, the company gathered data from Laura and other superconsumers and made sure the insights from that group aligned with a larger group of people who liked people, cooking and cheese. The company then aimed its marketing toward that group. It extended the brand to other categories, and the new megabrand grew by $100 million in three years.

As for how your company can do it, that’s explained in part three:

First, you’ve got to build relationships with your superconsumers. First you have to find them in your own customer data, within your team and among your family and friends. You’ve got to take the time to understand why they feel the way they do. You must feel the joy and pain of their passion for a category, and understand how your product contributes to both the joy and the pain. Then, to grow, you use their insights to make your product better.

The book also explains how to influence other groups. People who’ve got the passion, but aren’t spending as much, can be persuaded by making the experience of using your product more fun. People who buy things out of necessity rather than enthusiasm will respond better to your product if you make it less of a chore to use. It’s a bit harder to influence people who don’t spend a lot and aren’t passionate about a category, but Yoon explains how to do that, too.

Yoon also lays out strategies for getting employees involved in recognizing and engaging with superconsumers, and encourages finding the superconsumers that already work for you. (Hint: they can work in any department.)

Superconsumers outlines a philosophy of catering toward consumer passion that Yoon says should provide meaningful growth for your company. The book can provide business professionals with ample opportunities to learn from his experiences ask the critical question: how well do I really know my customers?

A Simple, Speedy, and Sustainable Path to Superior Growth
By Eddie Yoon
Harvard Business Review Press. 225 pages. $30


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