So you’re thinking about starting a business but are wondering how to best dive into the psyche of your customers?
It’s well and truly tricky business. That’s why we spoke with Ryan Tattle, co-founder of UThermic, the gurus in personal heating and cooling products, about wrapping your head around those pesky consumer behaviours.
But first, let’s chat about Ryan and UThermic. UThermic was founded in 2014, with their first physical product being their Coldscreen, a natural lotion that keeps you warm for 4 hours. In the subsequent 5 years, UThermic has exponentially expanded. This year, they launched a new marketplace platform (uthermic.com, what’s good?) connecting consumers with the world’s leading temperature-enabled products and brands. Not bad at all, hey?
This success story, however, involved a long process of trial-and-error when identifying the appropriate target consumer.
“While we did a lot of validation studies [in the beginning stages], there was still a slight bias to what we thought the positioning ‘should’ be… Our bias was towards what we knew and loved, which was snow sports, and to make it a trendy, life-changing product that would simply spread by word of mouth.”
Things didn’t go to plan. “After finding [that] the pick-up wasn’t as fast as we thought and starting to seek out who was actually using the product, we eventually found out that we were far from the pulse point.”
Although some buyers were purchasing Coldscreen for the intention of snow sports – their assumed target audience – they found that, in fact, a lot of people with Raynaud’s Syndrome, a condition involving reduced blood flow, were using, sharing and discussing the product. Raynaud’s Syndrome, it turns out, is a much larger community than they’d anticipated, with up to 10% of the population showing symptoms. This meant that UThermic had to change tactics and consider this new target audience.
“Had we not had first-hand communication with our customers and seen the patterns that the medical side versus sports side were showing, it would have been difficult for us to see what was going on and change our tactics.”
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Ryan also attributes marketing platform Mailchimp for helping to grow the business. “We started to use Mailchimp even before we launched (years ago) to build a pre-register sign-up list for our crowdfunding campaign – something that I have since replicated with other businesses to launch products and do million-dollar equity raises.”
Online services such as Mailchimp can assist in the identification of behavioural patterns, and allow us future CEOs to segment and target ideal consumers. Ryan discusses:
“What has been key for us, and where the value of what we can offer comes from is being able to have segmented audiences within our database in which we can talk to on their terms… This is something everyone should be trying to get in place as soon as possible… [They] will see the benefits of those targeted conversations very quickly.”
According to Ryan, when starting out in the business game, it’s important to put in the hard yards in order to get to know the desired consumer. He explains:
“Put in the front-facing work right at the start. Call, set up meetings or do whatever you need to do to talk with who you think your potential customers are. Really drill down on making sure that you are right. If not, then quickly move on until you find them. These people are going to be your early adopters and spread the word in the start. It will save you money and a shitload of valuable time.”
So what’s next for UThermic in 2019 aside from basking in the glory of their marketplace? “We have an exciting partnership in the works with a prominent Australian medical cannabis company in order to create a first of a kind nutraceutical product line.” I’m already green with envy.
Feeling inspired to dive into the heads of your future customers? Mailchimp allows you to design unique campaigns, dissect invaluable data and analytics and personalise your communication with consumers. I can sniff your success from a mile away.Image: Instagram / @sharonosbourne