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Customer Behaviour

To buy or not to buy…

‘What do employers look for in conservation graduates?’ ‘What skills and experience do I need for a career in sustainability?’ ‘Which wildlife volunteering opportunities would look best on my CV?’ These are all questions I asked when choosing graduate sustainability internships and everyday, people are asking similar things.

This is what this week’s learning has been all about – customer behaviour. Whether it’s a volunteering opportunity abroad or a new pair of sunglasses, there’s a huge and complex web of factors influencing our buying decisions. On average, depending on where you are in the world, you’ll be exposed to 500 to 5,000 advertisements, every single day. And it shows. You only have to look around to see the stark differences between us. People buying different experiences, reading different books, wearing different clothes. Some flock instantly to the latest innovations and gadgets, while others find them a nuisance. Why? because we’re all driven by different values. Our brains have to filter out all the information we receive somehow – and they do this by only focusing on what we consider to be important to us. As a marketer, understanding your customers is crucial.

What shapes these decisions? 

Deeply rooted attitudes, beliefs and cultures. Past experiences, unique to us, that shape how we perceive the world – and what we home in on because of pre-conditioning. Motivation plays a huge part. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs describes how first and foremost, our needs are basic, such as food and water. Once these needs have been met, the focus shifts to safety and shelter. Once met, the focus turns again – this time to finding a sense of belonging through friendships. Next is finding self esteem through success and status until finally, self-fulfillment becomes the need. It’s true however, that often we are trying to satisfy many of these needs all at once. Once we understand our customers’ needs and values, we can gear our products, services and the way we communicate them towards those needs. If you’re interested in this, or in any career where you need to communicate to different audiences, there’s a fascinating book: ‘What Makes People Tick’, written by Chris Rose.  A great read. It provides incredible insight into behaviour types driven by three main categories of values that people hold, which influence the way we think and ultimately, our lifestyles. Read it and you’ll begin to see the world around you in a different light.

You might be wondering how marketers target people when they all have such different needs and values, communicating to them all would be chaos! This is where segmentation comes in.

What is segmentation?

You can’t please all the people, all of the time. But you can please some people – and that’s what segmentation is all about. Dividing the market into segments based on customer behaviour, personality, demographics and the way they make purchases, deciding which group to focus on and tailoring your efforts to meet this group’s needs.

Customer behaviour towards wildlife volunteering opportunities

Are you looking for conservation volunteering opportunities? maybe you’re an environmental science or sustainability graduate aiming for a conservation career. Or maybe you’re studying in a different field, like marketing – and considering a career change. Like me, you’re probably swamped with emails and adverts – all with different volunteering options. You know you want to get experience, but how do you weigh up what to go for? In my personal experience, the things that jump out at me are the opportunity to work towards a qualification whilst volunteering and working for an organisation that shows tangible results of the good they’re doing. That’s what attracted me to Fuze Ecoteer.

I’m not the only one who wants to work for a responsible organisation. Even for those who may not have necessarily chosen a sustainability career in particular, research by Global Tolerance has shown that 42% of the workforce now want to work for an organisation that positively impacts the world. It appears that it’s millennials which are driving this shift, with the percentage rising to 62% for those born between 1981-1996. This is another aspect of marketing – understanding and meeting the needs of all your stakeholders and not just customers. This certainly includes employees!

And what do employers look for in sustainability/conservation graduates? 

Let’s come back to this. If you’re looking for volunteering opportunities to help get you on the career ladder and this is something you’re asking as part of your own customer buying journey, then from my own experience and a quick web search, here are some of the skills that come out top:

– Knowing your audience and tailoring messages to target them when driving behaviour change.

– Ability to work with different stakeholders from various cultures and perspectives – for example if you’re interested in exotic wildlife conservation, then go abroad, meet the locals and learn from their expertise.

– Leadership and enthusiasm for innovating – this is a fast moving field, so it’s time to experiment!

– Systems thinking – understanding all factors in sustainability is key to problem solving.

– The ability to motivate, for example by encouraging stakeholders to value the long term gains of sustainability over short term financial goals.

– Knowing how global trends affect business strategy.

On this note, the Sustainable Marketing Academy will be producing a Conservation Careers Guide that pulls information together on the sorts of conservation jobs that exist, the skills needed to get them and information on relevant courses and opportunities. I’ll be posting it on this blog once it’s ready, so keep your eyes peeled!

That’s it for now, but as always, contact me if you have any questions or comments!

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