As I draw towards the end of week 9, let me briefly explain my role at Quark – the business has been struggling in recent years and the new senior management team were tasked with creating a new strategic business plan, which was due to be presented at the end of March. I am lucky enough to report into the MD (an exuberant and enthusiastic Dutchman who is a great MD, in my opinion, despite his obsession with Coke Zero and chocolate…), and my job has basically been to complete all the research and groundwork that he has needed to be done, in order for the management team to truly understand the industry and be able to make decisions based on trends, competitors and potential gaps in the market.
As part of this process, the management team have been trying to look deeper into the profile of our customers – both existing travellers and our potential target customer base. Quark hired the services of a brand management/customer insight agency and so I attended a number of workshops where the team discussed Quark’s ‘brand essence’, where the company wants to be and just who our customers think we are; one session involved the production of ‘hunches’ – a suggestion of what the customer feels or wants but cannot articulate – based on quotes from customer interviews; fascinating stuff!
One of the outcomes of these sessions was that Quark was able to define different types of customers who are attracted to the polar product, and hence who have a potential to be attracted to our brand. The team created four customer personas:
California Tom (The Adventure Seeker): wants to push self harder and further; a high achiever in both personal and professional life. Enjoys the outdoors, extreme sports lover – has probably run a marathon or two.
Reginald T. Cromwell III (The Checklist Guy): has a list of things that he wants to do in his life, and likes to tick things off his list. He likes to have bragging rights (‘been there, done that’) although he may not be that physically fit. Plays golf. His wife probably wears a bum bag.
Belinda (‘Crouching Tiger’) Laker (The Emotional Connector): is more concerned about how she feels about the travelling experience than where she goes; she is searching for a deeper connection with herself. People and emotions are very important to her. Does yoga.
Anastasia Beaverhousen (The Exotic Experience Seeker): Well travelled, with a fast-paced career that may well encompass travel to large cosmopolitan cities. Is looking for new and varied experiences, and visits a place to experience a new culture and destination. Very connected to modern technology and considers self as ‘cultured’; not afraid to get a bit dirty but does spend a lot of money on shoes.
Of course, not every customer is a pure example of one of these stereotypes; most people will sit on a sliding scale of personality traits and embrace all sorts of different activities to some level. That said, there is now a recognition that not all guests are the same and, importantly, that a polar environment represents different things to different people. This allows Quark to market its product more effectively to a variety of target audiences, rather than relying on a ‘one size fits all’…
Only three weeks to go… it’s still raining in Toronto, I hope spring arrives before I leave!