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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

Understanding Customers in the Custom Decorated Apparel Business

Understanding consumer behavior

If you want to sell branded apparel or print custom apparel, it’s important to understand where your customer is coming from as far as their mindset as a consumer. When people go through a buying journey people start out as an individual and transform into a consumer. Shifting to a consumer has a direct impact on their ego after consuming a product or service because it reflects upon how they perceive their own competence. This is why it’s so important to control every aspect of their journey when they engage with your t-shirt brand or custom t-shirt printing business. Here are some of the basic factors that make up the psychological process.

Motivation: We buy products that we believe will help us mold our own self-image. To sell t-shirts we need to understand what motivates the consumer. Need is the foundation of motivation, making the consumer want it is the next and perhaps most difficult hurdle. For us, the benefits an individual will receive from purchasing custom t-shirts needs to be conveyed by making those benefits resonate with our customer’s sense of self. We must distill the benefits of our services to align with the customer’s goal. For example, we might have a customer interested in ordering custom t-shirts for a family reunion. We know that personalization brings everybody together and delights the recipient, and the person who came up with the idea to unite the family with commemorative t-shirts is the hero. That’s what the consumer wants to get to, the hero status. In this example, our challenge is to make sure the customer is confident that we’ll be able to deliver a quality product on time for the family reunion, in the sizes requested, and printed beautifully. How do we do this?

Our customer service angle: What is your goal by ordering custom t-shirts? Our benefit features – We’ve printed millions of custom tees, we employ expert screen printers, we employ expert quality control, we offer guaranteed shipping dates, we employ professional artists to review every order, we offer product and design recommendations, and we make our customers look great!

Uncertainties: Your job as a t-shirt brand or even as a t-shirt printer is to lower the feeling of danger. What do people see as dangerous? Overpaying for services and goods is a high risk that makes people wary. People also worry about the functionality of the product such as how it looks and feels when wearing it. The psychological risk is introduced when the customer worries if they will feel badly about their purchase or experience buyer’s remorse.

Online ordering of custom t-shirts gets scary because of competitors and possible past experiences with similar purchases that went badly. The consumer is constantly asking themselves, “Am I making the right choice?” To combat this, we provide as much information about the t-shirt or custom apparel as possible and the ordering process. Include the weight of the apparel product, the color choices available, the fabric content, laundering instructions, and reviews from other consumers that have purchased the same product. In our case as concerns products and print, we have thousands of testimonials that detail the look and feel of the received t-shirts printed by us. We capitalize on that information by including these reviews on the specific products so new customers can see what the general consensus is from other consumers.

Personality: Consumers will ask, “Does this t-shirt and print fit my image?” It’s your job to make your customer happy to be who they are.

Our customer service angle: We listen for clues. Do they reference a gala event, or is it for a sorority? If so, we recommend high end products that will align with their self-concept. We reinforce our authority in our recommendations by sharing stories about other customers whose goals align with theirs. In reference to the sorority customer for example, when recommending a product, we let them know the product being recommended is very popular with other Greek organizations we have as customers. Or, for another example, we had a politician order this product for last year’s fundraiser. Or if for a construction company, this product is very durable, comfortable, and washes well.

Consumer learning: As your customer researches what products and services to buy they need product knowledge and also want to understand the motivation behind the brand. Why do your services/products exist and why should they put their trust in you? Obviously they need to understand how to buy as well, if online, you need to make it as easy and transparent as possible with no surprise fees like expensive shipping sprung at the end of their transaction process. For product choices, they need to know the weight and content of the fabric and how to care for the apparel once received.

Our customer service angle: Does the customer mention previous purchases with competitors? Is price a sticking point? We know cheap often means low quality and like to ask how the customer wants their order of custom t-shirts to be perceived by others. This is not a trick, rather it’s asking our customer to evaluate their own self-image and uphold the standards they’ve set for themselves as far as expectations. We are both affordable and offer very high quality product and printing.

Customers want to be perceived as competent and savvy consumers that made a good deal. People that order for organizations risk their job and reputation so this is particularly important to them.

A post purchase relationship is equally important. This is when the customer will be asking themselves questions like “Did I do the right thing, and did I pay too much?” We try to delight our customers by providing an experience where the service and apparel looks better than expected and exceeds other expectations so their attitude remains positive.

Our customer service angle: We may know the customer is ordering for their company’s annual fun run. We may make a lowest price recommendation and extol the benefits by listing the reasons for its popularity. However we often make higher priced recommendations too because the product is more versatile and comfortable, and also very reasonably priced. By letting our customer know we’ve already done all the hard work for them, there is no reason to worry that they’ve made the right decision.

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