The Customer is Always Human

Look Familiar?LESSON UP: For those unfamiliar with the terminology. A customer is the person who actually purchases the product, but the consumer is reserved for those who actually use or consume the product. Sometimes a person is both, but in special cases like dog food, the consumer is the dog and the customer is a person (we’ll just avoid the more complicated discussion of Shaggy eating Scooby Snacks).

So that’s easy enough to remember, but something about it remains easy for marketers to forget–those definitions are not what define those people. Customers/Consumers are not mindless drones which you coax into your bidding of purchases and consumption, they’re people.

Take it from a guy whose photo is in black and white (an automatic sign of wisdom), “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.” Well, I’m not married, but I still get the point. 

The consumer is more than your wife; it’s your neighbors, your teachers, your parents, your siblings, and your friends. It’s even the guy who makes you a great pastrami on rye at Irving’s Deli every time. These are the people you come to respect and know. So why do so many marketers become blinded by that fact when the word “consumer” and “customer” are applied to those people? Have these labels changed something inherently human about them? Do they no longer deserve advertising which is relevant and thoughtful? Communications which actually communicate with the same respect and intelligence you would offer them face-to-face? I hope there’s no difference once you’re hiding behind your message.

Think about that the next time you receive a creative brief to write an advert or create a great campaign idea. If you think you’ve never met the target audience before, you are dead wrong. And yet, you still have so much more to learn about them. You know them, but you don’t know it all. Remember that and stay humble in your efforts to research before you reach out. After all, once you’re out of the office with money to spend, how do you want your industry speaking to you?


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