Who is my product actually for?

Buyer psychology plays a huge role in how to treat a product.
Written by Misty Henry
Updated 1 month ago

I debated on what category to put this in because it could really be placed in a few, but it's such an open and important question, that I felt here in the General Information is a good place to start.

Who, exactly, is your product for?

This question is the foundation of what guides you through any compliance process. If it is for children, we know that we will have a bit more to work through than if it is for an adult. If it is for babies, we know that there is a bit more than if it was for school-age children.

I cannot stress the importance of age-grading enough.

But what if you've already decided on age grading and you find that your product may actually be appealing to others?

Get an outside opinion.

When considering who your product is for, you may want to get an outside opinion to find out what others envision.

We can become biased and close-minded with our products such that we make something with the sole intention of decoration for adults. However, when it's made, it's made in a way that also feels child-friendly to the viewer and it may become a children's product even if we didn't mean it to be. Ask that outside person how they would search for a product like this, who they would gift it to, or how they would use it themselves.

Buyer psychology plays a huge role in who purchases our products and for what intent.

Again, having that outside opinion can help guide us to what others will be considering when they see our product standing alone. That being said, if it is with other products, we have the opportunity change that perception they have.

Consider this:

You walk into a department store with no intention other than to look around, maybe you're trying to spend time until your car's oil change is complete. So you walk in and move towards the right of the center display piece that greats you at the door. Moving to the right, you'll see the women's section, specifically the new holiday line of party dresses and other fancy outfits for special occasions. If you are the type of person that goes to such events (voluntarily or forced), you may be thinking of the events you have left in the year and whether you still need an outfit for it or not.

As you continue to walk, you come to the winter wear: Jackets, scarves, shawls, etc. Do you have a jacket that is comfortable and fits just right? Oh, but maybe it got cut last winter while you were trying to reach the top of the window to scrape off the ice.  But will the weather be cold enough this year? You'll come back to the jackets later...

In the next few feet, you come around to work-wear, and now, if you work outside of the home where there is more of a 'dress code', you may be considering your closet again in relation to the weather and the environment at your workplace. It stays a little chilly, so maybe I need a cute blazer that can go with the outfits I already have. I could use a couple of new pants. There's at least one that really should be retired as the ends are fraying and I don't feel like hemming them any time soon.

Then you move on a few more feet to what looks like day-wear. That which is more for going out with your friends, or the every day outfit and now you're considering what days do I have off from work? What days will I hang out with my friends, and, will we even go out or just chill at home?

Then it's active wear. Yeah, I'm not worrying about my new year's resolution this year...I'll come back to that later, ha!

Then it's sleepwear, and shoes, and jewelry, and cologne/perfume...

I mean, you get the point by now, right?

Categories exist for more than just ease of shopping. There is a whole marketing and compliance scheme behind it all.

The same works with specialty stores (video games, toys, adult, pregnancy, bridal, etc.) and the same works with your online shop.

When people decide to come to your shop, they already have a thought in mind. That is your first point of marketing to get them to be in the right frame of mind. Your advertising is already telling them that you are the place to get X, Y, and Z.

The second point to get them in the right frame of mind is how your website is set up. If you are selling a variety of things, you need to have categories, just like the department stores.

The third point is to make sure your category names, descriptions, listing titles, descriptions, and listing images are all pointing to the frame of mind you want your shopper to be in while looking at it.

Once you have those things set, you can fairly easily keep your 'decor only' item as decoration instead of being forced to treat it as a children's product (especially when it may fail that testing).

Does it appeal to a specific crowd, or multiple groups?

Intellectual property laws aside, I know there are a lot of people who have a focus on fan art and fan projects. Some of those projects may appeal to a very broad group of people such as "old school" or "vintage" shows and cartoons being re-booted or just people wanting to reminisce. There are quite a number of sellers who will create stuffed creatures and amigurumi characters based on older cartoons, but the intended crowd is older.

Because it's a cartoon, and potentially one that has been re-booted (Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, My Little Pony, etc.), it can very much appeal to younger kids. Caregivers may even want to purchase such a reminiscent product for their kids to allow their kids a similar feeling of joy that they had when they were younger.

So what can we do to maintain the older crowd if that is our intention?

The CPSC provides a few examples that they would take into consideration when determining if a product is appropriately categorized for age-grading:

  • Pricing (higher prices are typically seen as more 'adult')
  • Maturity of design (is it more simplistic or more realistic?)
  • Design (more fragile or more intricate parts can be seen as more 'adult')
  • Components (use of wires and specialty trims may be seen to be for older kids or adults)
  • Color schemes (brighter colors tend to appeal more to children)
  • Culture (certain cultures do things with various age groups, such as ear piercings)
  • Theme (again, cartoons vs real life shows, cuddly things vs zombies, etc.)
  • Ability needed for use (dexterity, cognition, etc. develop to meet certain benchmarks at various ages)
  • Actual use (this is where we fall into the trap of we say it's one thing, but the majority of buyers are using it for something else)
  • Advertising & Marketing (our own images, descriptions, tags)
  • Peers (yes, even 'big box' stores and how they market and advertise similar products)
  • etc.

Taking all of this into consideration, you can begin to assure that your intention and vision is passed on to your shoppers and they, in return, will pass it on to the people they talk with and share to. If your customers share that same intention and vision for the product, they will be super helpful in maintaining that intention and vision for future shoppers and that means you are able to keep doing what you are doing without worry of having to treat your product differently.

More Assistance

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