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Topshop no longer want me as a customer – and that’s not a bad thing

A few years ago, news that Topshop was opening in Australia brought tears of joy to fashion shoppers around the country. I may have shed a few myself.

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A few years ago, news that Topshop was opening in Australia brought tears of joy to fashion shoppers around the country. I may have shed a few myself.

The English fashion retailer is like a rite of passage for any female in London. An institution, like Zara (already in Australia) and H&M (coming soon) it’s one of those staple stores you buy from on your Big OE (overseas experience), wherever in the world you choose to go.

On trend, fast fashion that’s affordable and has a massive selection – it’s a winning strategy and, as every successful company teaches us, comes from a very tight brand strategy.

If you, like me, are over thirty and sauntered into Melbourne’s Topshop store soon after it opened expecting to be scooping handfuls of booty to the changing rooms, you would also have been sorely disappointed.

I had stepped back into the hideous fashion faux pas of the 80s and early 90s, and I didn’t want to repeat those mistakes again. But for the young girls trying on the stonewashed jeans and FRANKIE SAYS big baggy t-shirts, it was all very fresh and desirable.

Not so much a case of Topshop’s not for me any more. More a case of I’m not for them any more. And you know what, Topshop is okay with someone in her late 30s feeling excluded from their fashion party. It’s their business model.

That same realisation of not being the right fit for a brand, no matter which side of the business you’re on (be it customer or employee) is an important one to take into your own company.

If you’re a start-up not yet a year old, a family business 20 years old or a corporate organisation over one 100 years old, the more specific you are about your target market and the more articulate your definition of the person who buys from you, the greater your chance of success.

It’s a classic Start-up Error 101. In those first few years of business – and for many companies in their entire life – we’re all so scared of turning clients and customers away that we effectively fail to stand out as specialists in anything.

Being able to exactly define your target market is a compass that steers every activity that follows and it’s the first step in creating memorable and valuable brands.

Take a look at these definitions by American brand strategist Brad VanAuken of several distinct target markets for a wealth management brand. They paint a crystal clear picture of what the business and marketing will look like:

  • People 55+ on fixed incomes who have at least $250,000 in investable assets, have experienced significant decreases in net worth at least once and are worried about loss of capital and inability to live on their investments.
  • Entrepreneurs who have created their own wealth, have at least $1,000,000 in investable assets and feel as though they have not been adequately recognized for their accomplishments.
  • Individuals who have at least $500,000 in investable assets (many of whom previously managed their own portfolios) and desire a wealth management firm that can talk to them in depth about fundamental and technical analysis, market trends, investment philosophies, asset allocation, etc.
  • Individuals who have at least $500,000 in investable assets and who are tired of dealing with aggressive New York City brokers who do not listen to their needs or give them personal attention.

Can you be that explicit about your own perfect customer? It’s the only way to have any appeal to more customers just like them.

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