Understanding the actual customer for your products can often be confusing.
On one hand, your actual customer might be a level deeper than the one you’re working with. In the case of our company, the websites we build aren’t intended for the clients that pay us, but rather to appeal to their customers to help our client earn more revenue.
When it comes to products, you might also have a bit of mix between those that purchase your product and those that use it. From “The Design of Everyday Things“, author Don Norman shares this:
Designers need to understand their customers, and in many cases, the customer is the person who purchases the product, not the person who actually uses it. It is just as important to study those who do the purchasing as it is to study those who use it.
This can happen a few different ways.
First, if you’re working with a large company you might have to work with a purchasing or procurement department that isn’t necessarily aligned with the group you’re selling to.
In Don’s example, though, he’s thinking of companies that buy a product for the benefit of their customers. A great example are Don’s famous concept of “Norman Doors” — doors that were installed by a company for their customers to use, but fail to do their job very well.
You need to make sure that your product or idea appeals to those that will be using it, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t also appeal to those that will be doing the purchasing.