Making Generalizations About Your Customers Is Good for Business

Your parents raised you not to make generalizations about people.

But I think making broad sweeping generalizations about our customers is good for business.

I work at a company called Happy Herbivore; were we make most of our money with Meal Mentor. My wife Lindsay founded Meal Mentor about 3.5 years ago.

Meal Mentor sells meal plans which is basically just a pdf. But we do most of the work for you by providing all the recipes, a shopping list, and instructions on how to prepare all your meals for 1 week. As a customer you can buy one week at a time, a monthly subscription, or an annual subscription.

Our monthly subscription business declined for 5 consecutive months from July to November 2014. We lost more monthly subscribers than joined.

In a fit of frustration, Lindsay did something ridiculous. She sent an email to 30,000 people asking why they stopped buying our meal plans.

She responded to over 1,700 emails! But what came out of it was an insane amount of information about our customers.

Lindsay summarized and shared the most valuable insights with myself, Carly, and Jamee. We spend weeks improving copy, changing email list providers, creating better meal plans, adding new bonus materials, and live events.

However, the most valuable discovery was that we have two distinct kinds of customers. I decided to call them Investors and Casuals.

Each group is motivated by very different set of principals and it effects their buying behavior. Investors are happy to pay $179 for a year because they see it as an investment. The Casuals are motivated by scarcity and say things like it's such a "great deal" or it's only "$3.44 a week."


Investors are intrinsically motivated. They are driven my internal rewards. They are motivated to engage in a behavior that arises from within.

Behavior: They buy monthly or annual plans. Much less price sensitive. They actively use the plans each week as a part of a routine. They seek to understand and learn more about the diet.
  • Goal Oriented: want to lose weight, have a health issue like diabetes, heart disease, etc
  • Committed to lifestyle change: want to go fully plant-based; want to get health
  • They want more control: seek consistency for themselves, their family, or need help planning and keeping to a routine.
  • Need Help: These folks need help planning, preparing, and making their meals. They seek to learn more about this lifestyle change.


Casuals are extrinsically motivated. They are driven by external rewards such as visually appealing photos, getting a "deal", and free bonus materials.

Behavior: Purchase A la carte plans, buy only 1 month of plans to "try it out", or buy annual plans because it's a deal but rarely if ever use the meal plans.
  • Try the meal plans for the recipes
  • Heavily influenced by photos
  • Buy to get free ebooks and bonus material
  • Not committed to a goal
  • Download the plan but never use them
Conclusion: Investors vs. Casuals has drastically change the way I look at our customers. We've already change our website's copy to focus more on a goal oriented customer. We've also increased our the offerings of "free stuff" to motivate the Casuals.
We changed our branding from "7-Day Meal Plans" to "Meal Mentor" so that it's more focused on the community aspects. We offer a Facebook group for VIP Annual Subscribers and a forum for all subscribers. The last 3 weeks, we've been using Lindsay's new content strategy that's more Investor focused. It's doing so well that we've already 48.6% complete on this month's goal and it's only the 6th of the month.

Even our new tagline is focused on investing. The new Meal Mentor branding officially when live on Wednesday March 3rd.

If you want to hear more, I spoke a about more about it this week's Leverage podcast.

You can listen the podcast here:

Or on iTunes, or where ever fine things are sold.


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