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What is Customer Ikigai?

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There is a war out there, a battle for hearts and minds, clicks and conversions, on this wild thing called the internet. It isnโ€™t about pretty pictures or catchy headlines, though those may help. The real fight, the one that determines if you sink or swim on the internet, is understanding the people on the other side of the screen. Not as numbers or ‘target demographics’, but as people. Real people with problems to solve, passions that set them on fire… and a whole mess of things they believe about the world, about you, about your business, about your products and importantly about themselves.

Figure 2 Customer Ikigai

That’s where the Customer Ikigai comes in. Ah, Customer Ikigai – a fancy term that sounds like a secret ninja technique but is actually just a cool way to figure out why customers keep coming back for more. I mean, who wouldn’t want to uncover the mystical secrets behind why people love your product or service, right? It’s like discovering the hidden recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies in the world – except instead of cookies, it’s all about finding out what makes your customers tick.

But before I go deeper or as AI chatbots like to say, โ€œdelveโ€™ into Customer Ikigai, let me tell you how I came up with the Customer Ikigai.

The tale of my career meanderings could rival that of a wandering Buddhist monk in search of enlightenment (and a red Ferrari!) โ€“ from retail to insurance, consulting to marketing, I was a modern-day career chameleon adapting to every industry thrown my way. However, the constant job hopping left me feeling like a kangaroo on Red Bull, bouncing around without direction or purpose. It wasn’t until a fateful day of aimless Googling that I stumbled upon the Japanese concept of ikigai, a philosophy that promises to unveil one’s reason for being. And just like that, the pieces of my professional puzzle began to fall into place.

Inspired by this newfound clarity and sense of purpose, Customer Ikigai was born โ€“ a vision that revolves around unlocking the true essence of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Much like finding one’s ikigai, understanding the core motivations and desires of customers is a journey of self-discovery for businesses. By aligning their values and offerings with the deeper needs and aspirations of their audience, I truly believe that you can create lasting relationships that go beyond mere transactions.

Think of the Customer Ikigai as a compass for the digital wilderness, a way to cut through the noise and truly grok who your ideal customers are. Now, some of you might think it’s enough to know what they search for on Google, the keywords that will bring them right your virtual doorstep. But that’s like being the Captain of the Titanic who only saw the tip of an iceberg and tragically missed what lay beneath.

Here is the thing: people are complex, but people on the internet are weirdly more complex. Maybe they search for “how to lose weight fast” because deep down they are craving confidence, not just a smaller waistline. Maybe the guy checking out tech reviews is really searching for a community where he feels like he belongs. Understanding these deeper motivations isnโ€™t some touchy-feely digital marketing trick; it’s the master key to unlocking content that when published it hits the homerun, it makes people say, “Damn, that’s exactly what I needed.”

Let’s break down the Customer Ikigai framework. Four parts, simple but powerful:


Ah, Jay-Z, should he have just stuck with “I got 99 problems” and left it at that? Life is far messier than just a neat 99 problems, isn’t it? We all have that one thing that keeps us tossing and turning at night, the stress that makes us contemplate sleeping in our shoes. That nagging feeling of shame or frustration that makes us want to pull our hair out strand by strand. The fear that creeps into our minds and refuses to let go.

This is the part of Customer Ikigai that goes into the messy, tangled web of human emotions and experiences. It’s about understanding what keeps people up at night, what drives them to seek solutions in different ways. Because even with the same problem, the paths to resolution can be as varied as Forest Gumpโ€™s box of chocolates โ€“ some might crave a soothing meditation app, while others need to sweat it out in a grueling workout session. The key is to decipher these nuances, to be the empathetic guide that helps them navigate through the maze of their own complexities. So, put on your emotional Sherlock hat and get ready to unravel the mysteries of the human psyche, one problem at a time.


Passions are like that first cup of a Starbucks coffee in the morning – they give us the lightning jolt we need to kickstart our day. Whether it’s a love for art, music, sports, or even a deep-rooted obsession with cat videos, passions are what make us feel alive and connected to the world around us.

So, if you want to truly captivate someone, forget about boring sales pitches and presentations – tap into their passions instead. Show them how your product or service can enhance their love for designing dream homes or mastering the perfect cup of espresso, and you’ll have them hooked faster than you can say “double shot latte!”

Think of passions as the secret ingredient in the recipe of life – they add flavor, spice, and a whole lot of excitement. By tapping into what makes someone’s eyes light up, you are not just selling a product or service; you are offering them a piece of their own personal happiness.

So, next time you are trying to win someone over on the internet, remember to ask about their passions, listen intently, and find clever ways to weave your offerings and content into their world of enthusiasm. It’s not just good business sense – it’s the difference between being a forgettable salesperson and a memorable experience maker.


Alright, so let’s play detective and find out where our target audience likes to digitally lurk. Are they browsing through Reddit threads at 2 AM, binge-watching cat videos on YouTube, or do they have a secret Instagram account dedicated to avocado toast? Understanding their online habitat is key – it’s not just about slapping an ad on a website and crossing our fingers. We need to speak their language, crack their meme code, and cozy up to the influencers they swear by. It’s like a digital stakeout, but way cooler.

So, ditch the wishful thinking and embrace the reality โ€“ you got to meet people where they are on the internet, not where we hope they would magically appear. Whether they are deep-diving into niche forums, scrolling through TikTok dances, or lost in the vast wilderness of Reddit threads, our mission is clear: infiltrate, engage, and conquer their digital world. So, grab your digital binoculars, put on your virtual detective hat, and let’s go on a wild ride through the untamed lands of online platforms our audience calls home.


Perceptions are like onions – they have layers, and they can make you cry if you are not careful. When it comes to your audience on the internet, understanding how they see themselves in relation to the problem at hand is like cracking a secret code. Are they feeling as lost as a sock in a dryer, as empowered as a superhero, or just as confused as a chameleon in a bag of Skittles? Do they view your industry as a magical realm full of potential, your brand as their trusted ally, or you and your competition as a den of snake oil salesmen? It’s like being in a reality show where you are either the hero or the villain, and your performance determines whether they crown you their savior or banish you to the island of internet scams.

The way your audience perceives your content and products is like a game of chess – make the wrong move, and you are in checkmate. Are they devouring your content like a delicious slice of pizza, or are they rolling their eyes faster than a slot machine? Their perception of you determines whether you are their knight in shining armor or just another jester in the court of online marketing. It’s not about bombarding them with facts; it’s about weaving a narrative that resonates with their own story. So, grab your keyboards and start creating content that will make them see you as the hero they’ve been waiting for, not the villain they are ready to unfollow.

Now, here is where the Customer Ikigai gets its magic: the intersections โ€“ where problems intersect with passions, passions intersect with places etc. See, people don’t live in neat little boxes. The guy struggling with weight loss might also be passionate about cooking. That stressed-out mom might find solace in crafting communities online. When you understand this overlap, that’s when you find the sweet spot.

Let’s use an example. Say you are a fitness brand. Yeah, you know people want to lose weight, build muscle, all that. But what if you tapped into their deeper passions? Maybe it’s about feeling strong after a bad breakup, or wanting to have the energy to keep up with their adventurous kid. Suddenly, your content gets an emotional edge, a stickiness that no generic workout video can match.

Or here is another one: you sell tech gear. Sure, some people are nerds who want the latest specs. But others are searching for validation, for that ‘cool’ factor that tech can bring. Understanding this helps you craft content that makes them feel part of a cutting-edge tribe. Suddenly, you are not just selling gadgets, you are selling a damn identity!

See, this stuff goes beyond the digital. Customer Ikigai helps you understand people in the real world, too. The things they fight for offline, the communities they are part of, the way they want to be seen. The internet isnโ€™t some separate dimension, it’s just an extension of who we already are. The brands and creators who get this, they forge connections that matter, not just clicks that fade away!

But hold up. It isnโ€™t all sunshine and rainbows. Here is the paradox: The internet gave us reach, but it also made it easier for people to hide their true selves. You got to earn trust, bit by bit, click by click. People smell BS from a mile off, so authenticity matters more than ever. And the landscape is constantly shifting โ€“ as I keep saying, what worked yesterday might be outdated by lunchtime tomorrow. The Customer Ikigai is a tool, not a crystal ball. You have got to stay curious, observant, always willing to adapt.

So, here is the deal: if you want to make a mark on the internet, make something that matters to real people, then get to know them. Not as data points, not as dollar signs, but as complex, messy, passionate humans just trying to figure things out like you with only their mousepad or finger to click and navigate their way round the maze we call the internet.

This article is a sample from my new book called, “Clickonomics: A Curious Marketer Explores the Hidden Side of the Internet! it’s now available for sale and you can read it on your tablet or phone now!