Pros and Cons of Being In Your Own Target Market

Many fashion entrepreneurs start their brands to solve a problem that they personally experience. They are frustrated with the lack of options available in the market and decide to create the product they wish existed. For these founders, they are in their brand’s target market. Designing for yourself as the ideal customer has some unique advantages, but it also has some drawbacks. Let’s look at the pros and cons. 

Pros of being your target market

You have insider knowledge of problem

Because you are the ideal customer for your brand, you know first hand the challenges your target market faces in finding clothes that fit their body, lifestyle, and values. You already have a headstart on customer research. I don’t recommend starting a business based on a sample size of one, though. Do still talk to other people in your target market to make sure your products will be exciting to more than yourself. Though being part of your brand’s target market, you will easily relate to and empathize with the feedback you hear from others.

You have easy access to other people in your target market

When you are in your brand’s target market, you probably have met and know other people who also struggle with the same wardrobe challenges you do. This means you already have a foot in the door of your market. You know many people who are potential customers, fit testers, and focus groups. You can use this natural network to do further customer research and meet even more people in your target market. Often, the people you know and those that start following your brand early on are your greatest supporters cheering you on as you launch and grow your brand. Be respectful of their time and feedback and don’t spam your personal network with business related things unless your friends have agreed to it, though.

You are personally invested in solving the problem

Entrepreneurship is not easy and if you don’t have a strong motivation, it can be hard to keep going when you run into obstacles. Being part of your own target market gives you extra motivation. You started your brand because you cared deeply about a certain problem and wanted to solve it for yourself and others. You are also personally invested in finding the best solution as it is something that will directly affect your life too. This can be the motivation to pursue your business when things are tough. 

Cons of being your target market

You are too close to the problem

The phrase “you can’t read the label from inside the bottle” – while more about marketing, can be true for designers who are in their own target market as well. At times you can be so close to a problem that you can’t see it objectively. You can only see it from your own perspective. Other times it may feel like you are stuck inside the bottle, trapped by the problem, and can’t break free to do what you want with your business. When you are part of your own target market, it is important to seek feedback and guidance from other perspectives so that you don’t make decisions based on false limits or assumptions.

You are tempted to use yourself as the fit model

While being your own fit model is convenient (and quite a few brands resorted to this during the pandemic when meeting others in-person was more difficult and risky), it is not ideal. Practically, it is hard to fit and pin fit adjustments on yourself. Psychologically, it is hard to separate your objective opinion about the design and fit from your biases about your own body. Even if you are the ideal average size and shape for your target market, it is hard to make decisions seeing things on yourself. Seeing your designs on someone else lets you stand back and see the fit and proportions objectively. Even in terms of design, there may be styles that you personally wouldn’t wear, but others in your target market would. Using yourself as the fit model unconsciously gives more weight to your preferences than maybe is warranted.

You take business feedback too personally

Another downside of being in your brand’s target market is that feedback on your brand can feel more personal. Not taking feedback personally is something that I think entrepreneurs in general have a hard time with, but it can be especially true when you are so close to the problem and solution you are creating. It can be hard to separate someone’s critique of your business from a critique of you as a person and your lived experience. You are passionate about what you are creating and how it will help people like you, and it is crushing when someone else (i.e. a lost customer, family member, or investor)  doesn’t feel that same way. In the same way that being your own fit model can get tangled into your opinion of yourself, being in your target market can do the same with feedback on your business. Staying aware of this will help you keep your business and your personal identity separate and safe. 

Being part of your brand’s target market gives you a unique advantage and insider perspective compared to other brands. However, it also comes with challenges as the line between business and personal gets blurrier. Keeping both the pros and cons in mind will help you use the superpowers when they help you and avoid the challenges when they would hold your business back.

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