January 2012 - c3centricity | c3centricity

+41 79 93 39 789 info@c3centricity.com

Human Needs for Stronger Global Br ands

In 1943 Maslow defined the five basic human needs of physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualisation.

All br ands, products and services are designed to satisfy their target’s needs and desires, so Maslow’s hierarchy seems a good framework to use, when defining on what your offer will be based.


If this interests you, and it should if your business is global or geographically spread as I explain below, then here are the steps: 

1. Satisfying: identify which of the five needs your br and or service is looking to fulfill. Sometimes br ands in the same category can even play to different needs, at least in terms of their communications.

Keep in mind that the lower needs must be satisfied before higher needs can be addressed, so there is no point in speaking about status alone to customers who are still looking to provide a safe environment for their family to live in.

2. Resonating: communicating to your target audience by referring to their relevant needs will obviously resonate more quickly and easily with them. This of course means that you already have taken the trouble to deeply underst and them, their rational needs and emotional desires.

Some good examples that I have seen in recent years are detailed below:

  • Knorr’s packet soup in the UK, based on needs of food, safety and love.  See video
  • Nestlé’s Baby food in Chile, based on food, safety and love. See video
  • Omo washing powder, one from a long series entitled “Dirt is good”, based on safety and love. See video
  • Marlboro cigarettes used a cowboy in their campaigns for years, as he was associated with security, belonging and self-confidence
  • Peugeot car, based on self-esteem and status: See video
  • UK back seat safety belt buckle-up campaign, based on safety. Warning, the ending is violent; not for the faint hearted! See video

Do you have any other examples representing identified human needs? If so please share them in the comments below.

3. Going Global: another advantage of using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to position your br and / service, is that they are felt by all human beings. These communication ideas are often referred to as “Human truths”. They help by improving the likely success of a  roll out regionally or globally, compared to basing communications on local specificities alone. The examples above, although mentioned as being from certain markets, actually became successful regional or global campaigns.


To guarantee satisfaction, your customers need to feel that you really care about them, truly underst and their needs and that your offer resonates with them. If you are successful in doing this, then your communications will be understood without any work on their side; it will be obvious to them what you are talking about and they will be able to simply identify themselves with what is being shown.

Do you have a question or challenge about uncovering the most relevant human truths for your own br ands? I am sure I can help; just contact me here  and I’ll respond personally.

For more ideas on connecting with your customers: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post was first published on C3Centricity Comments page on September 8th 2011

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

5 Tips for taking Local Br ands Global

An article in the FT caught my eye this week. It was challenging companies to search for new marketers who could st and up to the challenge of taking local br ands global and who understood when local specificities make sense and when they don’t. (Read the article here)

In this networked and global market we live in, more and more br ands that are successful locally are being groomed for global roll-out, but what does it take to repeat success at the market level when you launch globally? Here are my five suggestions to help you:

1. Underst and the market

This is the basis of any new product launch and applies just as well to global roll-outs as it does to local developments. Today’s consumers are dem anding, so find out as much as possible about them, their rational needs but also their emotional desires, whether or not they are articulated.

2. Underst and the category

What does the product st and for in the eyes of your consumers? Do the consumers in the new market have the same sensitivities as the ones in the local market where it has met with success? Will the consumers in the target market perceive the same benefits in the same way?

3. Communicate based on a Human Truth

One of the similarities that brings all consumers together is their basic human values. Think parenting and wanting the best for your children. Think women and their frustration at not being considered as beautiful as the retouched models in their magazines. Think of men and their need to charm and seduce women, to affirm themselves. These are traits that can be found the world over and which can form the basis of very successful communication strategies.

4. Can you use your local heritage?

Many countries and regions have strong images that can play to inherent qualities associated with certain product categories coming from them. Think French or Italian fashion, German cars or Japanese technology. If your br and has a strong positive association with local tradition or nationality, then make use of it.

5. Don’t (just) think regional

Just because countries are geographically close, doesn’t mean their populations are similar when it comes to category usage. When planning product roll-outs, consider how alike the consumers are in terms of values, usage and behaviour as well as category trends, before deciding on the order of country launches. This way you are more likely to be sensitive to and better prioritize the markets most open to the new product launch.

Many companies have effectively rolled-out local successes to other countries in the region, if not the world, but many more have failed. What would you add to the list to increase the odds in favour of a regional or global roll-out? I would love to hear your thoughts.

For more ideas on successful innovation check out C3Centricity’s website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

How to Respond to Negative Feedback on Social Media

I remember going through a meeting with a client and remembering that they didn’t want to be on social networking sites because they didn’t want to get negative feedback. The thing is, whether or not your company is using social media, someone is talking about your br and on social networking sites like Yelp to review their experience with your br and.

In case you’re wondering whether or not your br and should respond to this feedback, allow me to shed some light on these interesting facts. Firstly, according to a study done by The Retail Consumer Report last year, 68% of consumers that posted a complaint or a negative comment on social networking sites, about their negative experiences, got a response from the retailer. From that, 18% of them turned into loyal customers and bought even more. If you think that is all, you’re wrong. 33% of them turned around and posted a positive review after that, and 34% of them deleted their negative review that they had left earlier. This shows that, if h andled properly, negative feedback can indeed be a powerful tool to gain loyalty from your customers and enhancing, not only their experience with your br and, but also the experience of other customers who view your br and’s online persona – since they would be reading some of the positive reviews that the returning 33% had posted.

And for smaller businesses, gaining loyal customers is extremely important! Question is, how should you respond to negative feedbacks?

1. Respond as fast as possible: According to a study (yes another one) 25% of customers expect a response within an hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. Having said that, how fast you respond depends upon the industry your business is in.

2. Don’t follow the script all the time: I just hate it when social media managers or the person behind the br ands follows a script. If you don’t know, most customer representative online or offline have a script to follow depending on what customers say on social media sites. Follow a guideline and not a script. Be different and sincere. Be HUMAN.

3. Give customers more information: I remember seeking help via social media and I receive a “we’re sorry about your experience” response without any help and the br and gave the same response to others as well. Remember don’t follow the script earlier? Despite them responding quickly, they did not answer my question or solve my problems, and I had to comment again. Having said that, it’s not only important to respond quick but also how you respond  that matters.

4. Have a separate email or contact: It’s frustrating when you tried emailing customer service without any help, and when you reach out to them via Facebook or any other social networking sites, they tend to give you the same exact email contact. In my opinion, the better choice would be to have a separate email address for Facebook IF email is need. Another alternative would be to reach out to them by sending them a message on Facebook so that you can get more information.

5. Be honest and transparent: Don’t try to hide or give any excuses; instead be upfront with your customers and apologize and admit that it’s your fault if it is. Having said so, if you don’t have an explanation, apologize to your customers and let them know that it will never happen again.

6. Don’t take it personally: Last but not least, don’t take negative comments as personal attacks. Instead, take them as feedbacks as you’re able to see things from a customer’s point of view. However, if you feel that the customers could be wrong, you could try to defend yourself in a polite way.

Have you had any experience with negative comments? Do share with us how you have dealt with it.

For more information on customer connection, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

New Year, New Challenges: 3 Helpful Ideas for Innovators

As we ramp up to face the economic, political and societal changes that will surely continue in 2012, many organisations are challenging their R&D and hopefully marketing departments too, to develop and launch new products and services.

With luck, these developments were already in their plans and pipeline for this year, but sometimes businesses are forced into going to market sooner than they would have liked, due to market circumstances or competitive activities.

An article in Marketing Week (read here) at the beginning of last year, mentioned that Unilever said that increased investment, as well as their “Bigger, Better, Faster” innovation initiative was the driving force behind its increased profit and sales in 2010.

As we are all only too aware, today’s customers are highly dem anding of novelty and each period of satisfaction becomes shorter and shorter, as they quickly get accustomed to the latest improvements.

In an earlier post (read here), I spoke of the research carried out by Jan-Benedict Steenkamp, a marketing professor at UNC Kenan-Flagler which showed that CPG / FMCG innovation needed to be one of the two extremes of “innovativeness” to succeed:

  • either a minor improvement, or renovation, such as a new flavour, size, colour, packaging, content …
  • or a radically new product that is significantly different from anything else on the market. These are of course more breakthrough and therefore more difficult to develop. Past examples have included microwave meals, Sony Walkman, Nespresso, iPhone, Ipad,

The interesting and perhaps disturbing thing about breakthrough innovation, is that timing is everything; bring it out too early and people won’t underst and or see the need; too late and competition might beat you. This is one of the reasons that IT companies quite often offer “beta versions” of their products or software before they are 100% ready and then quickly follow with a version 2 with corrected or improved functionalities.

Other br ands such as Nestlé’s Nespresso or even Gillette’s Silkience, the first shampoo with integrated conditioner, launched almost 40 years ago, were introduced ahead of the curve, before their consumers were ready for them. The companies then had to decide to either wait it out (Nespresso waited many years to become profitable) or relaunch at a later date, but then risk being pre-empted by competition, who then have the time to copy the new product.

So how can companies better underst and their consumers’ needs, desires, or even unarticulated and unknown needs, and launch just in time to benefit from them? Here are three ideas that I came up with, but I would welcome your input too:

1. Develop Future Scenarios

Most organisations today are following trends, but as competition is almost certainly following the same ones, there is no competitive advantage and little chance of benefiting from identified tendencies. It is only when the trends are turned into future scenarios that the real competitive advantage appears.


2. Identify lead countries

Most industries have markets where the consumers are more dem anding or more open to innovation in certain categories. These are great countries for both market testing, as well as for showing others what is likely to happen in the near future. Such examples include:

  • fashion in France and Italy
  • technology in Japan and the USA
  • retailing in the USA


3. Collaborate with neighbouring industries

Several companies have formed alliances with others to either prepare first level ingredients for their own product preparation or to develop manufacturing technologies or retailing opportunities with cross-over possibilities. Examples that come to mind include:

  • Sony-Ericsson: a joint venture by Japanese consumer electronics company Sony Corporation and the Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson to make mobile phones
  • The retail giant Walmart formed a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises, Inc., one of India’s leading business groups, which led to their opening business there in 2009.
  • Nestlé and Coca-Cola formed a joint venture for Ice Tea (just ended)


Today’s consumers are highly dem anding of bigger, better and faster innovations, so companies must build speed and flexibility into their new product development processes and tools to answer these needs. Being better prepared is half the battle.

How are you preparing for the constant dem ands of your own customers and consumers? Please share your ideas and stories below.

For more ideas on new product and service development, please check out innovation on our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

The 7 Essentials of Customer Centric Websites

I was recently reviewing corporate FMCG / CPG websites and what a shock I got! These are organisations with the consumer in their name, so they should be consumer-centric, right? Well yes of course!

However, very few of them seem to have taken the consumer’s perspective when creating their websites and even fewer delighted me sufficiently to make me want to return to their website, at least any time soon! 


From what I have seen so far, it appears that most organisations build their websites to share information with their customers. However it is the information THEY want to share, not the information their customers might want to have. So I thought about what would be important from a customer’s perspective. Here is my list, but please share your own ideas or additions:


The 7 things that MUST be on your website

  1. A clear structure that is intuitive – but still include a sitemap for those that need further help or are less logically minded
  2. Contact links or details on the home page, including telephone numbers, email, postal and street addresses and social media account links; it is why many of your customers will go to your website in the first place.
  3. A list of your products, br ands and services you offer, with details of ingredients, limits to usage, distribution or other details that might be of interest and relevance to your customers
  4. An About section showing the company details, including its management, geographical areas covered, mission statement, values, strategy and culture, as well as the latest news, both for investors  and customers
  5. Valuable content from the customers perspective, which is regularly updated and has cross-browser compatibility with web-friendly images. Since videos are one of the most popular elements researched on the web, it is a good idea to include them, as well as your latest TVC and print advertising – people love to watch and comment on them.
  6. FAQ section with most often asked questions, which should be constantly updated with new information as customers connect with queries
  7. Utilities such as search, sign-up, subscribe and RSS feed for them, tracking and statistical analysis for you


A good example for inspiration

One of the better ones I recently came across, and which is also a lot of fun to interact with, is the corporate site of Reckitt Benckiser. It really interested and engaged me for quite some time and in many different areas. For example, instead of the usual list of its br ands and their logos, it shows what it calls its Powerbr and line-up displayed on a retail shelf or in the rooms of a virtual home (I admit the supermarket bell irritated me somewhat but you can turn it off). You then click on the picture of the product to get more information on it, including its latest advertising.

This way of inviting interaction actually made me want to click on all the br ands to find out more about them. There are also interactive demonstrations of the corporate world, through games and challenges, that add further appeal not only to their consumers but also their employees, past, present or potential.

Take a look at their site – it’s linked to their name above – and then compare it to your own corporate website. Which would you like to spend time on? Is your site a corporate or customer-centric one?

If you have your own favorites of most customer-centric websites, then please share them below. If yours is less than perfect then share what you will be changing so that we can go back and check in the near future. 

For more ideas on how to better connect with your customers: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post first appeared on C3Centricity Comments page on September 1st 2011

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

DON’T Turn Knowledge into Insight!

This may be a surprise to you, but you should rarely – dare I say never? – turn knowledge into action. If you do, you will almost certainly fail. 

Let me explain. I have nothing against action, in fact I don’t think enough companies activate their learnings. When you have gathered all your data and turned your information into knowledge, you know a lot, don’t you? But knowledge isn’t underst anding. You don’t know the reason “why”.


Identify your issue

Suppose you have done some market research and know your customers are mostly young men, who are 18 to 24 years of age. You might then assume that your offer is not appealing to young women, which may be true. You might therefore decide to target young men in your actions and forget about the female category users.

However, unless you turn your information and knowledge into underst anding, you might just be missing out on a whole segment of potential customers. You need to underst and why more men than women are buying your product or service. Is it the name, the size, the packaging, the outlets in which it is sold, the way it is communicated, or simply the product or service itself? Unless you know why men buy and not women, you cannot successfully develop a plan of action, or should I say as successful a plan, as you could.


An example

I remember discussing a famous soft drink br and a few years ago with its Regional CMO. The manufacturer was concerned that his br and was only being bought by women. He therefore decided to launch a second br and for men. The new br and was not as successful as he had hoped and so he asked my help in underst anding what was going on.

It turned out that he had a lot of information about his current consumers, but very little knowledge or underst anding, and definitely no insights. Instead of launching a new br and targeted to men, which had cost millions to produce and market, he could have simply tried to find out why male category users were not buying his current br and. When we looked into it more deeply, it turned out to be simply a question of communication and pack size, and had nothing to do with the br and itself.

By changing these two elements of the mix, he could easily have attracted more men to buy the br and in the first place. He could also have then spent more money – significantly less than the launch cost – on supporting it in appropriate channels for men. And saved the company a lot of money and aggravation from the failed launch.


Keep asking “Why?”

Before you get too excited about all the information and knowledge you have gathered, and start working on plans to activate your findings, just stop. Ask yourself the question “why”; ask it as often as is needed to be able to underst and what is really happening. Once you underst and what is going on, then and only then will you be equipped to develop appropriate actions.

Underst anding is also necessary to develop true insight, that will lay the foundation for the future success of the br and in the long-term.

What are your tips for better underst anding and insight development? I would love to hear your ideas.

If you would like to know more about underst anding and insight development check out the C3Centricity website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

This post first appeared on August 12th 2011 on  the Comments page of C3Centricity  

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

The 3 Essentials of Br anding

Br ands are an integral part of the customer experience; even private labels, “white” products and generic services have names and thus associations in their customers’ minds. However, a br and is more than just the name given to it; it is also all the other elements that customers associate with it, which may include design, descriptions, colours, packaging elements, perfume, price, personality or images.

In considering the br and element of your product or service offer, and making it more customer centric, there are three main areas to consider:


  • although you certainly have a clear idea of what you are offering, underst anding customer perception is in fact more important to you, since it is what they actually believe about your offer that really counts. It is therefore very important to follow the progression of your br and’s image on a regular basis, since everything that happens in the market, whether due to your or your competitors’ actions, will have an influence on how customers perceive your br and.
  • The image of your major competitors should also be followed since comparative ratings are more useful and actionable, as they can highlight strengths and development areas. The other advantage of taking competitive measurements too is that you can keep abreast of changes in their offers, which might not always be visible otherwise.


  • the image of your br and develops over time, based upon your activities as well as your customers own experiences or those shared by the people they trust. Today this can include web pages, blogs and social media, in addition to friends and family, or the more traditional channels. This can complicate things, since it is vital that you keep them under constant surveillance in order to react in a timely manner. Today’s world is fast-paced and customers will react negatively if you don’t respond rapidly to them.
  • Communications and activities which influence br and image include any or all of the following: advertising, packaging, pricing, frontline personnel, websites, sponsoring or promotions. Their performance and the satisfaction offered also has an impact on the image created for your br and. Whatever communication and activities you undertake, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. Each customer experience should build towards the same, coherent message to create a strong and differentiated image.

Image and Equity:

  • many organisations under-estimate the importance of image and equity, the perceptions that your customers have about your product or service offering. As previously mentioned, what people think about your br and, is at least as important, if not more so, than what it is in reality. It is vital that you know both the perceptions and the reality, as well as the similarities and differences between the two, if you are to make most use of your communications.
  • Measuring br and image should be done at least every two to three years, but can be done annually if there is a lot of change happening in the marketplace. Images don’t move as fast as marketers would like, nor often believe they do, so more frequent measurement is likely to show very few if any significant changes from previous ratings. Ideally before, or at least immediately after launch, the image of your br and should be evaluated and then reviewed regularly to ensure constant optimization.
  • Once the image and value perceptions have been evaluated, it is important to plan communications to either support a desired positioning or to correct it when necessary. Since perception often starts to weaken before any decline in sales is recorded, image and equity can be used to forewarn of negative performance and thus provide time to develop appropriate corrective actions before any impact on the business.

One final word on the importance of following the images of both your br ands and your corporation, as all customer centric organisations do. A lack of awareness of current perceptions can have a negative impact on the trust and image of the company itself, as for example with repeated new product or service failures, and this with your customers, retailers and distributors.

Would you add a fourth essential to the list? What would it be?

For more information on creating the best product or service for your customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

Are you on the Way to Br and Heaven or Hell?

Heaven is when a br and provides its customers with a positive experience and portrays itself in a consistent, credible and transparent manner, so that they trust it and are loyal. (>>Click to Tweet<<)

Hell is the opposite of all of this.

With the past recession and continued turbulence, retailers and manufacturers are battling to survive, which has often meant the (over?) use of promotions.

Stairway to heaven or hell!UK retailers said to be destroying Category Value

A recent article in the UK’s Marketing Week included a comment from Heinz’s COO Matt Hill who had hit out at supermarkets for “destroying category value” through steep price promotions. He said the “dramatic acceleration” of promotional activity across supermarkets meant that 40% of grocery sales now come from deals – up from 30% three years ago. “Retailers are driving footfall promotions that are incredibly deep, such as “buy one get two free”, which while driving footfall is destroying category value” he said.

Hill added that Heinz’s growth strategy centers on launching product innovations that grow the category, such as br and extensions which invite new users to the category, offer new benefits or create new uses. “Marketers are best focused on what will grow the category. You look at [consumers] needs and how you can meet them better. If we do a better job of growing the category and meeting needs than the other guys, then we will grow our share too”

Turning Br and Buyers into Discount Buyers

These comments reminded me of a comment Jean-Jaques V andenheede from The Nielsen Company made when he showed me a chart a few years ago, illustrating the effect of too many price promotions on br ands. He called it the “Staircase to hell” and showed the effect of price wars on br and equity.

A buyer becomes a Promotional Buyer when a br and is (too) often on promotion, to the point where the promotional price becomes the “normal” price in the mind of the customer. Once a buyer becomes used to buying on promotion, it is only one small step to trying a private label (PL) product. If the product experience is acceptable for the price paid, it is then only one more small step to becoming a discount buyer.

It is interesting to note that PL sales in the UK are one of the highest in Europe. I know I am only a sample of one, but there are several br ands I ONLY buy on promotion today, as I know that discounts are offered every couple of months, so I just need to make sure I buy sufficient stock to last until the next promotion comes out; I am sure you do the same on some products and br ands, no?


Are you covering all the elements of Br and Building?

I recently came across a similar concept also presented as a staircase by David Armano (shown above), that includes heaven and hell; it shows both the problem – diminishing br and equity – and the solution, supporting br and building. This staircase includes positive experience, consistency, credibility, authenticity and trust as the br and builders of equity, and the lack of them as leading to br and hell.

With these in mind, how would you say that your br ands are positioned on the staircase; are they going to heaven or hell? Do you even know?

What other elements of br and equity would you add to this list of five? Why not share your ideas and how you are measuring your own performance here?

For more information on br and building check out the C3Centricity website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post first appeared on August 4th 2011 on the Comments page of C3Centricity

C³Centricity sourced this image from David Armano

FREE DOWNLOAD “Innovation Secrets”

Everything You Need To Know To Improve Your Innovation Success Rate

* indicates required