November 18, 2021 by Matt Bahr QOTD
QOTD: Who Is This Purchase For? The Buyer vs User Problem

Buyer Vs. User Problem

In today’s Question Of The Day, we’re going to tackle the Buyer vs User problem with the simplest of solutions: a single question that lets customers self-segment, and subsequently helps to keep your audiences (and business metrics) tidy.

The Buyer vs User problem plagues most businesses, whether they’re selling sunglasses DTC, or selling software B2B. It’s the challenge of having to market and sell your product to someone who is purchasing on behalf of someone else.

In some corners of commerce, this is just the nature of the beast. One good example is the Toys & Games category; there’s virtually zero overlap between the people who buy these products and the people who use them. What’s more, the buyers often have totally unrelated (or even opposing) value criteria from the users, such as price or build quality.

But interestingly, the Buyer vs User problem occasionally pops up in almost every category when the purchase in question is a gift. Think about Housewares: wedding & baby registry gifts, housewarming gifts, Mother’s Day gifts… even though Housewares is a staple category for any home, there’s no shortage of occasions where the product purchased is intended for someone else.

What’s tricky about the gifting audience (those of your customers who are buyers, but not users) is that they’re unlikely to identify themselves -- and depending on what ratio of your customer base they make up, that audience can throw a wrench into your ability to analyze retention and engagement. What’s more, it’s obvious that you’re not delivering the optimal customer experience to a buyer if you mistakenly assume they’re a user.

Luckily, there’s a fix for that… and you can plug it right into your checkout flow.

Who Is This Purchase For?

Crack open your EnquireLabs Question Stream™, and set up this simple question to ask New Customers, Until Answered. Our recommended response options are below, but follow your heart (and your market fit):

  • Myself
  • Friend or family member
  • Co-worker or client
  • Other

Who is this order for? Like many post-purchase survey questions, this one packs a ton of insight into a simple DFC interaction. Let’s take a look at some of the learnings to be had here:

First and foremost, any answer other than “Myself” automatically segments the shopper as a buyer, not a user. This distinction is crucial for your marketing automation workflows (especially if you don’t already have a workflow for gift-givers), to ensure you’re delivering the most useful content. After all, this is a potential future customer who already knows what you offer, and where to get it -- and they know someone else who advocates for the product. You’ve cleared so many hurdles to a conversion by this point!

Segmenting the gift-giver audience also helps to clean up your performance metrics. Splitting your customers between the Buyer vs User will typically reveal the former group to have higher churn and lower content engagement, to say the least. You’ll get a better idea of how your custom relationships perform and trend once you’ve split these groups up.

Of course, that’s not to say buyers are all low-volume, one-and-done shoppers. One of the reasons we suggest the aforementioned response options is that a gift-giver can often have a more predictable repurchase window than a traditional customer. “Co-worker or client” respondents, for instance, might be open to purchasing several of the same product for different users, or repurchasing during the holiday season -- a sales opportunity made even more appealing by the fact that such buyers are likely swiping corporate cards rather than digging into their own pockets. “Friend or family member” respondents purchasing for a birthday or holiday can easily be reminded as the next notable date on the calendar approaches (do you still get those 1-800-Flowers email reminders that it’s your aunt’s birthday next week? Yeah, us too.)

Beyond that, learning what products perform best as gifts can guide additional business metrics and decisions. One EnquireLabs client, Pastreez, used the “Who is this purchase for” question to get a grip on the variance of their AOV: when the dust settled on customer responses, a clear distinction emerged between user AOV and buyer AOV, where the latter segment was spending 100% more per order.

Question Stream - Buy vs. User

All these insights are made more powerful when you ask a follow-up question or response clarification using our platform. Here are a few rather unique tactics, once the first response segments the shopper as a gift-giver:

  • “What convinced you to buy this product?” Get a pulse on the drivers behind your gift audience potential by finding out how many bought because of price, as opposed to a particular selling point, or simply because the recipient asked for the product.
  • “Would you ever consider this product for yourself?” Confront the opportunity head-on and learn whether this shopper should be in your pipeline; route them to the appropriate automation workflow based on their answer.
  • “How will you describe this product to the recipient?” A refreshingly left-field question, as any good entrepreneur will tell you that the people who pitch their products best are the customers. Ask this to gather a slew of consumer-generated one-liners and keywords.

The options are endless for what you can ask as a follow-up here, and if you’d like to check out some more, see our Question Bank for best practice questions submitted by top performing DTC brands and survey methodologists.

In closing: no matter what you sell, you’ve got a Buyer vs User problem -- but just by talking to your customers, you can turn it into opportunity.

This article is part of our Question Of The Day (QOTD) series, where EnquireLabs teams up with the industry’s smartest qualitative marketers to deliver best practices and unique perspectives in the art & science of questions. Are you a question authority? If so, our customers would love to hear from you.