The 6 Most Common Types of Customers & How To Approach Them

A podium with three different shapes set atop: a sphere, a cone and a square. The different shapes represent the different types of customers explained in this blog.
A podium with three different shapes set atop: a sphere, a cone and a square. The different shapes represent the different types of customers explained in this blog.

No two customers are exactly alike, and that’s a good thing. Your customer base is comprised of a multitude of personalities, needs, experiences, and priorities. Their individual paths led them to you. Now, it’s your job to figure out the best way to approach them and turn them into paying customers, and hopefully fans for life.

The first step in doing this successfully is knowing the different customer types and what makes them tick. From there, you can tailor your approach to highlight your brand and show off what makes you a great company to do business with.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the six common types of customers, how to identify them, and most importantly, how to speak their language.

Table of Contents:

How Many Types of Customers Are There?

First things first: you must know the various types of customers. If you’re looking for an exact number of customer types, it largely depends on how broadly or specifically you define them.

Here’s how we break them down into six main types:

The Curious Customer 

The first of the six types of customers is the Curious customer.

Call them researchers, tire kickers, or mildly interested – most importantly, potential customers are considered top-of-the-funnel prospects.

Consumer types at the top of the funnel need a bit more work to convert. They don’t know your business or brand yet. They’re not sure about your value or why they might need your product or service.

Some curious customers stumble upon you during their research. They have a specific problem they’re looking to solve and want to explore their options. Others might be exposed to your brand via advertising and want to learn more about what you do.

No matter how they found you, their top priority is to seek information so they can move forward, with or without purchasing.

The On-the-Fence Customer 

Customer holding a phone in deep thought. The second of the six types of customers is the On-the-Fence Customer.

Consumer types that know your value but aren’t quite ready to pull the trigger can still become paying customers. They just need a little help tipping the scales in your favor.

These customers are informed about your business and brand, to a degree. Maybe they’ve taken a demo of your software or sampled your product. They’re aware of their problem and that you have a potential solution to their needs. They just aren’t sure whether to choose you or a competitor.

The Ready-to-Buy Customer

Customer holding a fan of money. The third of the six types of customers is the Ready-to-Buy Customer.

Customers that are ready to buy need no further convincing. In many cases, these are need-based customers that have to make a decision. Many of these customers start out at the top of the funnel and move down with nurturing. 

They also don’t let obstacles get in their way once they’re ready to buy. If the price is a little out of reach, they will rethink their budget and find a way to afford it.

Some are impulsive customers. They know a good thing when they see it and don’t need to do any research. However, impulse buyers are usually not loyal customers. They buy on a whim, which means they might also buy from your competitors in the future if the right opportunity arises.

Consumer types that are ready to act on purchase decisions want to do exactly that: Buy! They have a specific need to fill. They don’t want to jump through extra hoops and prefer a seamless experience all the way.

The Discount Customer

Customer shrugging his shoulders. The fourth of the six types of customers is the Discount Customer.

Bargain hunters prefer to buy from companies that give them the best overall value for their money. They often won’t buy from you unless you offer a discount or coupon; in many cases, this deal needs to be pretty substantial compared to the regular price.

Upselling to this type of customer is challenging. Getting repeat business from this customer without offering future discounts is also next to impossible. But discounts don't have to be your standard business model. There needs to be high value involved, and it needs to be obvious to maintain this type of customer relationship.

The Loyal Customer

Customer shouting in a megaphone. The fifth of the six types of customers is the Loyal Customer.

The holy grail of all customer types, the loyal customer is arguably the most desirable. They love your company or brand so much that they will always buy from you, even when a cheaper offer exists elsewhere. They typically spend more with your company and will even become brand advocates and tell their friends and family to do business with you, too.

You don’t have to offer discounts and incentives to maintain their loyal business. Price becomes less of an issue, and a bad experience carries less weight with this type of consumer. They may be more willing to forgive and forget if they don’t have a perfect experience.

The Dissatisfied Customer

Customer holding his head. The final type of customer is the Dissatisfied Customer.

The opposite of a loyal customer, a dissatisfied customer is often viewed as a lost business opportunity. Maybe they had a bad experience. Maybe you quit offering the discount that attracted them in the first place. Maybe you didn't fully know their customer needs. Whatever the reason, they’ve shut the door on your relationship.

But don’t think that door is locked forever. Even with angry customers, you can find ways to provide them with better service. Your dissatisfied customers might want to come back and give you another shot. Those customers already know you, so use that to your advantage.

How to Identify Customer Types for Your Business

Every business has a patchwork of these six customer types. But how can you identify them on an individual basis? And more importantly, how should you approach each one along their customer journey?

You can learn a lot about a customer or prospect’s priorities based on their behaviors and interactions with your business. For example, a Curious Customer might look at your company’s About Us page to learn more about you, while a Ready-to-Buy Customer might visit your product pricing web page.

Here are some telltale signs to look for:

Type of CustomerStage(s) of the Customer JourneyWhat to Look For
The Curious CustomerAwarenessClicks on an ad; follows on social media; visits website; reads blog content
The On-the-Fence CustomerConsideration, PurchaseReads case studies; adds to cart or completes part of check-out but doesn’t finish; checks for online reviews; schedules a demo or requests a sample
The Ready-to-Buy CustomerPurchaseCompletes the checkout process; signs up for service
The Discount CustomerConsideration, PurchaseSearches for a coupon code; visits an affiliate site before purchasing; signs up for a newsletter in exchange for a coupon code; only purchases during a sale
The Loyal CustomerPurchase, Retention, AdvocacyMakes repeat purchases; refers others to you; participates in a loyalty program
The Dissatisfied CustomerAwareness, Consideration, Purchase, RetentionDrops out of funnel with or without purchasing; leaves a bad review; asks for a refund

The customer journey will look and function differently for every company. That’s because your customers (and their needs and expectations) are unique to your business.

Conduct market research to learn more about your potential and current customers and their priorities. Tap into your own website and sales data to get to know your audience. The more you understand why they choose you (or a competitor), the better you can adjust your approach and cater to their individual needs.

How to Deal with Different Types of Customers

Knowing the different types of customers is an important early step in every sales strategy. Next, you’ll want to know how to use these consumer insights to approach each customer type based on what they value.

Keep in mind that each prospect or buyer is in a different place in the customer journey. You should aim to develop a customer strategy for each consumer type to increase your chance of making sales and valuable connections.

Here are some ways you can appeal to each persona:

The Curious Customer

Curious consumer types are information seekers. They want to make an informed decision but can’t do so if they aren’t able to find what they’re looking for.

The remedy: Offer rich, detailed content that makes it easy for prospects to get to know you. Show them the value you offer and what they can expect when they buy your product. Case studies, blog articles, landing pages, and some social media branding can all help the cause.

Also, make sure to let your curious customers know how they can contact you. Show them where they can find more information, such as a resource library, or reach out via chat, email, or phone to ask questions.

The On-the-Fence Customer

On-the-fence customers have gotten to know your brand. They recognize that you could be a solution to their problem. They’re almost ready to buy, but what will make them choose you over another?

The remedy: Nurturing. Lots of nurturing. Keep reinforcing the value you bring to the table and what makes you unique. Stay in touch with follow-up emails and phone calls. Share middle-of-the-funnel content like case studies or invite them to a webinar.

This might also be a good time to offer an incentive, such as a discount, free shipping, or free upgrade. Such an offer might just be enough to tip the scales in your favor.

The Ready-to-Buy Customer

When customers are ready to move forward, there’s no stopping them… or is there? Even when customers are certain of their purchase, a few things may still kill the deal.

The remedy: Make it easy for customers to complete their purchases. They should be able to take care of business fast without getting wrapped up in a thousand questions, opt-ins, upsells, or questions.

Simplify your checkout process – the fewer clicks, the better. Respond quickly when customers reach out for help or questions. Waiting too long can cause them to bounce to a competitor.

The Discount Customer

Offering sales and specials is a surefire way to appeal to the discount customer. However, if you want to build long-term loyalty without offering a discount with every purchase, you’ll need to focus on building up the value you offer.

The remedy: If you offer a discount, explain the terms in plain language to the customer. If it’s a one-time deal, let them know it. Make sure to add a cherry on top so the customer knows just how much better it is doing business with you instead of a competitor. This might be 24/7 customer service, a free birthday gift, or no-hassle returns, for example. The right value can sometimes feel just as sweet as not paying full price.

The Loyal Customer

Loyal customers are rocket fuel for your business. They don’t need much convincing to buy from you or tell their friends and family about you.

The remedy: Give your customers an easy way to share your brand with others. This might be a referral marketing program or simply social sharing buttons on your product pages or website.

Also, figure out what it is that makes your loyal customers love you so much, then keep doing more of those things. Turn them into repeat success stories so you can continue earning more loyal customers.

The Dissatisfied Customer

Your relationship with a customer went south. It happens even to best-in-class brands. But the brands don’t take dissatisfaction as their final answer. They turn bad experiences into learning opportunities and consciously work to improve.

The remedy: Figure out what turned your customers away from you. If it’s your fault, admit it and aim to do better. Focus on the things you can control, such as improving your customer service, offering perks that your competitors are offering, or correcting an error.

Once you’ve made adjustments, you might incentivize your dissatisfied customers to give you another try.

Effective Marketing Relies on Understanding Customer Types

Building an effective brand marketing strategy starts with understanding your customers. After all, they hold the key to your financial success.

Get to know each of your customer personas so you can meet them wherever they are in their journey and connect with them in their language. It’s the next best thing to reading their minds, and they’ll reward you for the effort in the form of sales, loyalty, and advocacy.