7 Secrets to Business Growth from Leading Global Brands

Consultants get contacted for all sorts of – admittedly sometimes strange – requests for support from their clients.

However, when I get several people asking for help in the same area, I know something important is happening in the marketplace. This is exactly what happened to me a few months ago. I was repeatedly asked to share my secrets to Business Growth.

Most marketers have now returned from their vacation and are realising just how little time they have left in which to meet their annual objectives. Their brands have not performed as well as they had hoped this year and they are looking for a solution – fast!

No less than two of my current clients and four new companies have asked me for support in growing their businesses in just the past month! In particular, they have all said that one or more of their brands is stable – to be polite – and that they want to reverse the (non-existent) trend. Is this your situation too? If so, then I have a useful 7-step process that will bring rapid, if not instantaneous change. (although if I was one of the self-declared gurus we all see on social media these days, I probably should guarantee you results in days!)

 

How to Recover a Declining Brand

OK, let’s get straight to the point with the most painful of situations first, that of a declining brand. A few years ago I wrote a popular post about using brand image metrics to understand what is happening with a brand and how to identify the best actions to take.

It is called “How to Stop Brand Decline: Following Brand Image is More than Meets the Eye.” I highly recommend reading it now, for a short but in-depth understanding of all the information that can be gleaned from a simple brand image study.

Almost all brands use their own brand image data in a very basic way, but there is so much more that can be done with the information, even without harnessing AI to do it for you!

Business growth from brand image measurement

In the above post I speak about the different kinds of attributes that should be measured and how to find them. They must cover the three aspects of customer benefits, namely:

  • Rational, functional benefits
  • Emotional, subjective benefits
  • Relational, cultural benefits

However, what is even more important is how you analyse the data once you have it. I suggest looking at, as a minimum:

  • Total and splits by demographics – gender, age, location etc
  • Segments as you have defined them – attitudes, values, motivations etc
  • Steps of the customer journey – aware, consider, try etc

 

Changes in your Brand image are just one of the things that you should look at when you are trying to understand why your business is flat, or even worse, declining. It’s one of the best kept secrets to brand growth!

Let’s now look at some of the others.

 

Next Steps

So you’ve gone through all seven steps. Continue Reading

How to Make a Great Customer-Centric Web Design

Web design is a variable that changes as fast, if not faster than we can get our latest creation published!

In just the past twelve months, digital adoption has expanded five to ten times faster than was expected, thanks to the pandemic and lockdowns. This, together with the increased economic uncertainty and loss of predictability, has driven customers online in ever greater numbers.

This migration has further shifted the balance of power to the customer, who now has far more control of their relationship with brands. As if this weren’t challenging enough for marketing, customers have also become less loyal and more open to new experiences.  

That’s why it’s important for a brand to always be improving their online presence. Not the “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” type of superficial updates, but changes that make the experience better for current and potential customers. What are they? Read on to find out.

 

 

What Google wants

What Google wants, Google gets. Since it launched its core web vitals last year, some websites have dramatically increased their search result rankings (Like C3Centricity did!), while others have disappeared off the front page, and the following pages too!

Google announced the introduction of Core Web Vitals last year as a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, the three most important ones for a good customer experience. These are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint: This is the time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.
  • First Input Delay: The time it takes for a page to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than 100 ms.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift: The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1.

Google said it would give six months notice before introducing these metrics, to give everyone time to adapt and improve their websites. I haven’t yet seen an announcement but I have seen changes in my rankings (for the better) so I am wondering if they have in fact already been introduced. Do you know if they have?

Taking the perspective of the customer

One of the most frequent reasons why websites fail is because the creator has not taken the perspective of the visitor.

The content has been designed by an organisation with the objective of distributing information that it wants to share with its current and potential customers. Not what they believe their customers might need or desire. And even less the differences between the needs of current and potential customers. Even when the customer is considered, it usually comes as an afterthought, often as a review the day before its launch!

Customer-centric web designs use customer input all along their development, not as a late-stage verification that customers can use it, which is what many companies measure. (if at all!) There are so many opportunities to see how customers are using our websites that there is no excuse for frustrated visitors leaving early, before doing what they came to do. Continue Reading

24 Factors to Consider in Pricing your Product, Service or Solution.

We have a treat for you today. It’s a guest post from the highly respected global expert on customer centricity, Alan Hale of Chicago.

He writes about the importance of getting pricing right and generously shares twenty-four (!) factors to consider when pricing your product, service or solution.


Over the past several decades, I have managed over 250 projects, and am currently serving as the President of Consight Marketing Group. During that time,  I have noticed that some of these clients experienced customer erosion or profit sub-optimization due to poor pricing practices. The following article discusses some of the issues seen, as well as other pricing challenges described in other marketing journals and textbooks.

  1. Pricing needs to cover your costs. Pricing needs to cover COGS (cost of goods sold), and contribute towards an allocation of fixed costs like rent, utilities as well as profit. Selling a high volume of products does not guarantee a profit. “We will make it up in volume” does not make sense.
  1. It is related to capacity, the economic supply and demand. If you have strained capacity like oil pipelines, prices are substantially raised. Conversely, if a contractor has no backlog, they might be willing to discount prices. For you econ majors, it is the intersection of the Marginal Revenue and Marginal Cost curves.
  1. Price according to the Market Lifecycle. Early adopters in the growth stage pay more than laggards in a mature or declining market. A major computer manufacturer used to price their line of PCs 10% higher than the competition due to their brand, perceived status and support. As PCs became more commoditized, the pricing premium came down. If you have a well-known brand name with a high amount of loyalty, you can charge a premium. If it is a mature/commodity item it is difficult to charge more. Would you pay 50 cents more for a pack of nails on the retail shelf?
  1. Price insensitivity is positively correlated with ROI. Cost is not as important in the business arena if there is a high ROI. Look at ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems that can cost millions upfront over the first few years with consultants and implementation. But it saves the organization tens of millions over many years.
  1. Pricing depends on the amount of the cost of the components versus the total cost of the product. Bottling companies fill bottles with cola or other liquids. These polypropylene bottles are significant to the costs, and contract prices are negotiated heavily every year or contract period.
  1. Pricing is dependent on selling to the MRO (maintenance repair and operations) channel or OEM (original equipment manufacturer). Because of volume OEM’s can demand much lower pricing. Car manufacturers can buy tires at a much lower price than the customer off the street for example.
  1. Pricing is related to value. I have been privy to many research and consulting proposals. Some companies do a cost-plus calculation, the labour will cost so many hours, at an average cost plus markup for profit is the price for the proposal.
Continue Reading

Should CMOs Concentrate on Brand Building or Business Growth?

Do you remember when Coca-Cola did away with their CMO in favour of a Chief Growth Officer? Then two years later they brought back the position. At the time, I asked if they were wise or foolhardy to make such a change, but they answered the question themselves!

In an interview with Marketing Week, their global vice-president of creative claimed that it had “broadened” the company’s approach to marketing. Obviously, this didn’t live up to their optimistic expectations. I think that other companies who followed suit, also realised that they need a CMO after all. However, their role has changed significantly. 

 

HOW MARKETING HAS CHANGED

Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. If you’re like me and are fascinated by how change happens, then I’m sure this complete history of marketing Infographic by Hubspot will be of interest.

With the arrival of digital marketing in the early 80’s, many companies began to take a serious look at their marketing. They realised that their primarily outbound strategy had to change. Their consumers didn’t appreciate being interrupted in their daily lives. However, with the creation of inbound marketing, they still irritated their consumers with spammy emails, popups and “subtle” cookies for following their every move. No wonder the EU felt inclined to develop its GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

What has changed over the past five years is marketing’s deeper awareness of, if not complete adherence to, what customers like and dislike. The major trends that we have seen and their impact on marketing, include:

  1. Chatbots, especially through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, to catch consumers on the go with highly personalised messaging.
  2. The use of voice. With the battle between Amazon, Microsoft and Google in the voice search and commands domain, customers can get answers just by asking. This is a huge challenge for businesses because being on the first page of search results is no longer enough; you have to be first!
  3. Video is taking over social media, with its rapid rise on YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Influencer marketing is giving way to customer journey mapping with the increased detail that IoT can provide. Many organisations have moved their marketing plans to mirror their customers’ path to purchase. Or rather paths, as personalisation continues to trump mass engagement.
  5. Zero-party data. As social media platforms have seriously reduced the collection of their subscribers’ data, brands are increasing their direct engagements with their consumers. Through polls, quizzes and competitions, they openly ask for consumers’ details, bypassing the need for cookies.

Have you taken these megatrends on board and adapted your marketing accordingly? If not, why not? 

 

BRAND BUILDING

In the past decade or so, many large CPG companies such as P&G  and Nestle renamed their Marketing departments as Brand Builders, in the hope of adapting to this new world. They failed, miserably.

I believe the reason they failed is that despite this name change, they continued to run their marketing in the same old way. Continue Reading

How to Measure Customer Centricity the Right Way

Listen on Apple Podcasts“Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts to get new episodes as they become available.”

 

As a customer-first strategist (just like you I hope), I spend a lot of my time searching how to better measure customer centricity for my clients. I also do a lot of analyses on what customers really want today. I’m always trying to understand the exact solutions customers need, desire and dream of having.

My regular searches include customer service, customer satisfaction, customer care and similar topic areas. Google is my best friend! However, I recently came across some surprising facts, which prompted this post. I believe they show a serious problem in the business of looking after our customers today. Read the article and then let me know whether or not you agree with my analysis.

CUSTOMER CENTRICITY

Wikipedia, another online friend of mine, doesn’t have a definition of customer centricity! If you look up the term, you get redirected to customer satisfaction!  Try it for yourself and see.

My other go-to source for definitions is  businessdictionary.com which defines customer centric as:

“Creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale.”

It then goes on to say

“A customer-centric approach can add value to a company by enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.”

Now although I find the definition limited, since it refers only to sales and post-sale activities, I do like the fact that it mentions three important elements of customer centricity:

  • A positive customer experience
  • Adds value to a company
  • Enables differentiation

This clearly identifies three huge benefits of becoming (more) customer centric:

1. A positive customer experience has been shown to increase both loyalty and advocacy. As we all know, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer, as it does to keep a current one. Therefore loyalty is an incredibly valuable benefit for a brand.

According to recent research by Bain & Company, along with Earl Sasser of the Harvard Business School increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by between 25% and 95%. OK a very wide range, but I’m sure we’d all be happy with even a 25% increase in profits, wouldn’t we?

One further piece of research, this time from Marketing Metrics, shows that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%, whereas the probability of selling to a new prospect is less than 20%.

Clearly placing more attention on keeping our current customers satisfied brings greater rewards than going after new ones. And yet that is what most companies set as a priority. Any ideas why?

2. Adding value to a company also increases the ROI of its marketing investments. This is something that marketing is constantly challenged to prove these days. With the risk of seeing their budgets cut if they are unable to provide convincing arguments to their bosses.

Luckily, what’s good for the customer is good for business. Continue Reading

The Good, Bad and Downright Ugly Parts of a Head of Marketing Job

Listen on Apple Podcasts“Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts to get new episodes as they become available.”

 

Did you know that the average tenure of a Head of Marketing position continues to fall, reaching just 41 months according to the latest Spencer Stuart research published by the WSJ?

It is still one of the shortest average terms of office of any chief in the C-suite, according to a recent report by Korn Ferry. But one piece of good news in the past year is that although conditions for CMOs have become more difficult since the coronavirus pandemic, “In many cases, CMOs are not being removed, but it’s been pretty dramatic layoffs beneath them” said Greg Welch, practice leader for marketing, sales and communication at Spencer Stuart.

So just how long have you been in your position?

The Bad News

A global survey by the Fournaise Marketing Group provides one possible explanation for the continued decline in tenure. It highlights the ongoing tensions between CEOs and CMOs. A huge 80% of CEOs don’t trust or are unimpressed with their CMOs, compared to just 10% for their CFOs and CIOs. Why is this?

Perhaps it’s because CEOs don’t understand the role of a CMO or is there still an issue with the ROI of the marketing budget? I’ll let you be the judge of this in your own situation.

Another piece of research by HubSpot reported that Marketing as a career suffers credibility issues as well. It ranked the most trustworthy jobs, with Doctor ranking number one and near the bottom, just above Car Salesman and well below Barista, was “Marketer”. Car salesmen? Really? That is scandalous!

The Opportunities

Let’s start at the beginning. What opportunities are there, that marketers can keep their jobs? Despite the short lifespan of a CMO, and while the position is plagued by high turnover, this could also be because CMOs are highly visible.

Therefore they can be targets for promotions or a steal by their industry competitors. Nice to feel wanted, isn’t it?

It is understandably important that a new CMO quickly makes an impact. More so than any other c-suite function, bar the CEO of course, who sometimes faces almost immediate criticism by shareholders and the financial world, upon being named.

Another piece of good news for the head of the marketing function is that being on the executive board they have access to resources. The bad news is that as the CMO is a member of the EB, management expects them to make (profitable) changes fast.

And even more so if they have just been hired! The board trusts the new CMO to analyse the situation, identify what needs to be done, develop the plan to do it and then take actions. And all of this in their first 3 months or so!

Are you or have you yourself been in exactly this situation? Tough isn’t it?

That’s why many CMOs hire a supportive advisor or sounding board such as myself to accompany them on this stressful early part of their journey.  Continue Reading

A Winning Marketing Plan: 9 Questions Every Marketer Should Be Able To Answer

What does it take to write a winning marketing plan? Every marketer writes a marketing or business plan each year don’t they, so how difficult can it be, right?

Well, writing a marketing plan isn’t hard at all, but writing a winning marketing plan is very difficult. And time-consuming. And getting it approved by your executive board is perhaps the most challenging part of all.

And it’s not only in the formal marketing plan presentation that you need your “A” game. Management is renowned in most organisations for “innocently” posing questions when passing marketers in the corridor or while socialising at a company event.

Answer the CEO’s questions to their satisfaction and you will stand out from the crowd. Provide an incomplete or, worse still, no answer at all, and they might just wonder if it isn’t time to restructure the marketing group!

So here are my 9 actionable tips on how to write a winning marketing plan, so you can answer any question your CEO or boss throws at you – EVERY time.

The simple rule is to NEVER say you don’t know, but also to never drown them in a long-winded answer. Neither will win you brownie points. Make sure you have an answer like those proposed below and your name might just be on the next list of promotions. (Do I congratulate you now?!?)

 

1. WHO ARE OUR BRAND’S CUSTOMERS?

There is far more information needed than just age and gender, to answer this question. Prepare a short description (often called a persona or avatar) of a typical user, in the same way as you would describe a friend. See 13 Things your Boss Expects you to Know about your Customers for further details on what you should already know about your customer.

Once you’ve checked out the above article, why not also download our 4W™ template? It will help you put everything in one place so it is always handy and more importantly makes it easy to update it whenever you learn something new about them.

GOOD ANSWER: “Our customers are middle-aged women, whose children are in their late teens or early twenties. She shops in local supermarkets and gets advice from friends on Facebook, about the best brands to buy and what’s on offer.”

If the CEO / your boss looks interested or asks for more, then continue with “She’s been buying our brand for over two years because it satisfies her children’s hunger when they get in from playing sports. That makes them happy and she then feels proud of being a good Mum. We call her Patty.”

With this answer, you will have given them a short summary of the most important elements of your persona. By adding the name you have given the avatar, you might get them to also refer to her in your next meeting. That’s when you know they listened to you and that you won an important step up in their estimation.

 

2. HOW MUCH ARE OUR CUSTOMERS WORTH TO US?

Continue Reading

How to Cheat The Customer – or Not!

Why do companies still try to cheat their customers? Is it because they think we won’t notice? Or do they believe that there are enough people willing to buy their brand for the first time, that they don’t need to worry about getting that second purchase? Either way, they clearly haven’t heard that the most important attribute a brand needs to build is trust!

With so many purchases being made online these days, there is a growing number of articles exposing the behaviours of organisations who obviously haven’t adopted a customer-first strategy. Companies who still think it’s OK to try to attract customers and entice people to make that all-important first purchase, with less than honest promises. 

I know that this has always been the case in some industries and companies. Brands try to convince people that what they have to offer is exactly what their potential customers need – even when it isn’t. However, in today’s socially connected world, it surprises me that many organisations continue to believe that they can “get away with it” whatever “it” might be!

Perhaps they are not aware of what they are doing. Perhaps they think no-one else will notice. Whatever the reasons for such practices, I thought that it is once again time to call them out with some new examples of the more common behaviours. Some of them are even from large global multinationals who should know what they are doing! Such a shame – but it does make for some fun reading!

 

Dishonest labelling

In many cases, packaging is the first personal contact a customer has with a brand. Whether in advertising or on shelf, based upon what they see, people will quickly decide whether or not your brand is worth investigating further. If so, they will read on, or if in store they will pick it up and read the label, perhaps comparing it to competitive brands.

Here are some examples of the different tricks some brands play in the hope of attracting that first purchase. But these tricks will only lead to a disappointed purchaser and will rarely lead to repeat purchases.

I know we’re currently in Winter in the Northern hemisphere and most of us are in lockdown, but we are certainly already dreaming of the day we can get back out and enjoy family bar-b-qs.

And many of us will want a bright and happy design covering our table. This tablecloth looked perfect in the pack, but despite saying it is printed all over, the design is only on the border. It is packed so that only the design shows, so most would never even read the back of pack.

 

I’m a big fan of L’Oreal and regularly get drawn to their new products. Again I wouldn’t have checked the back of pack to understand the meaning of the word “new” printed on the front label, would you?

Obviously we need to pay more attention to what is written on packs as in this case it is the pack design not the contents that are new. Continue Reading

Top 20 Most Popular Customer Centricity Articles of 2020

Traditionally C3Centricity publishes a list of the most popular customer-centricity posts on its blog in January and this year is no exception, despite covid’s extraordinary impact on businesses the world over.

Many people were working from home this year, were you? If so, then I’m sure that because you avoided commuting most days, you had the chance to discover some new blogs and podcasts. If you are new to C3Centricity then welcome, glad you could join us. Many others just like you, found C3Centricity for the first time this year. Perhaps that’s the reason why we recorded an over 15% increase in our readership in 2020. Or maybe it is because the quality of our posts is always improving and we share more regularly. Either way, we’d like to thank you all for your support this past year.

In appreciation of your loyalty, we have summarised the top twenty articles we published in 2020, so you can check that you didn’t miss any, or remind yourself of their usefulness:

 

#1. Five Rules of Customer Observation for Greater Success

Measure your company image

This post has been amongst the top articles on C3Centricity for many years. It is regularly updated so it remains highly relevant in today’s marketplace. Its popularity clearly shows the need we all have to understand how to get up close and personal with our customers – the right way.

 

 

#2. The 6 Best Ways to Show you Respect your Customers

Show you respect your customersThis is another evergreen post that has been popular amongst our readers for several years. The article shows you how to connect with your customers and gather their information.

It also has some tips on how to build a good relationship with them and respectfully let them leave if they no longer want to connect with you. Making it hard for them just makes you lose image.

 

 

#3. Five Brilliant Ideas to Boost your Insight Development

Boost your insight developmentEver wondered why you struggle to develop actionable insights. This post shares some of the main reason why even large companies fail at this essential art.

It is also loaded with examples of how great insights can be turned into powerful ad campaigns that connect with customers and motivate them to buy.

 

 

#4. How to Map Your Customer Journey & Overlay their Emotions

Customer journey mapStarting from a personal experience in the hotel industry, this article shares the lessons learned that are applicable to all industries in how and why we all need to understand and follow our customers’ journey.

From thinking about buying the category to successfully turning purchasers into raving fans of our brands, this will improve your own customer journey mapping and guide you in correcting any weak spots in it.

 

 

#5. Is Packaging Part of Product or Promotion? Should it be Both?

Customer centric packagingDo you consider packaging to be (just) a means of protecting your product and providing on-shelf presence? If so, then you are missing out on other valuable benefits you have probably never thought about. Continue Reading

How to Take Local Brands Global: The 5 Rules to Fortune

I remember reading an article in the Financial Times a few years ago, that challenged companies to search for a new style of marketer. You might be forgiven for thinking that they were speaking about the current need for marketers to be both creative and tech-savvy. But they weren’t. They were referring to the growing demand for marketers who could take successful local brands to global fortune.

After all, thanks to the internet, we live in a global market and the recent pandemic has highlighted this more than ever before, with online shopping booming. The marketer who understands when local specificities make sense and when they don’t, is the one who will succeed in today’s global economy.

In this networked world, more and more successful local brands are attempting global roll-outs. What does it take to repeat the success you’ve had at market level when you launch globally? Here are my five rules to fortune:

 

1. Understand the Market and How It’s Changing

This is the basis of any new product launch and applies just as well to global rollouts as it does to local brand developments. Today’s consumers are demanding, so find out as much as possible about them. Understand their rational needs but also their emotional desires, even if they don’t openly articulate them.

For global rollouts, additional information concerning the comparison of similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets must also be considered. This is where trend following is of particular use, even if you haven’t (yet?) developed plausible future scenarios, as I recommend here.

 

Let’s look at some of the latest trends which are growing across regions today.

  • I want it now! Consumers and shoppers want information – and their purchases too! – where and when they need it. This has been the case for years. But now they expect to get near-instantaneous answers to all their questions, sometimes using visual search to identify and buy whatever they see, wherever they see it. Ikea’s Place App offers shoppers the possibility to snap an article they like and then see it in their home environment. Ikea also offers a visual search function for shoppers to identify an item seen in a magazine or real life, and then find similar ones. Dulux’s Paint Colour Visualizer offers shoppers a similar service; you can try out paint colours virtually in your home to see how it will look with your furnishings before you purchase it.
  • Personalised Experiences. Despite the desire for data privacy control, consumers are ready to provide their information in exchange for a better, highly personalised experience. ZozoSuit is one example in Japan which enables consumers to order clothing online that will fit them perfectly.
  • Join the Club! Another use of personalised data is in providing privileged services – at a price. This idea is used for the regular delivery of razor blades and tampons, as well as for personalised exercise routines and menus.
Continue Reading

Why UX Design is Vital to User Satisfaction and Ongoing Job Security

One of the greatest changes that the current pandemic has prompted, is the increase in the use of technology. From smarter homes to an improved online experience, people have a lot to gain from the situation. This is why UX design is vital to satisfying our customers’ demands and needs

To be fair, the trends were already there, covid just speeded them up. Recent reports have shown that:

  • 62% of consumers shop online more now than before the pandemic (Bazaarvoice)
  • 36% of consumers shop online weekly since covid, up from 28% pre-pandemic. (Digital Commerce 360)
  • 29% currently shop more online than in person, while 35% do both equally. (Digital Commerce 360)
  • Ecommerce accounts for 16.1% of all US sales, compared to 11.8% in Q1. (US Department of Commerce)
  • BOPIS (Buy online pick-up in-store) surged 259% YoY in August 2020, as many shoppers are concerned about the safety of in-store shopping. This is a 59% increase in August over July! (roirevolution.com)
  • 12% more time is being spent on digital this year. (Merkle)

Clearly, things have changed dramatically and businesses, both B2C and B2B are scrambling to catch up. Here are some thoughts about what is important to know when trying to meet our stay-at-home customers’ changing desires:

 

FROM TEXT TO VOICE

Most of us have grown up with text communication, but Gen Z, those born after 1996, are more comfortable with voice. They are less formal but far more impatient than previous generations.

They expect Alexa, Siri, Cortana and similar voice-activated personal assistants to be available whenever they have a question. With this type of search expansion into daily life, being on the front page of Google is no longer good enough. You have to be the number one answer to their questions!

 

AI IS NOT ONE TECHNOLOGY

Despite what digital marketers may have hoped, AI is not the solution to all our problems. It is simply a series of technologies addressing various current and future customer needs.

Unlike normal analytical processes, using AI needs developers and users to start with the end in sight. Knowing what we are looking for, rather than waiting to see what the analysis brings us, requires a very different thought process and skill set.

The questions asked become as important as the answers received, if not even more so. Therefore it is advisable to make them the best questions you can possibly ask. Your digital marketing has everything to gain and nothing to lose by better understanding these new customer’ demands and how technology can be used to meet them.

 

AI IS NOT 100% ACCURATE

AI is still in its infancy, despite great leaps forward in some areas in the past few years. For example, language translation is still far from accurate today, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. Anything that moves us toward increased customer satisfaction from our digital marketing efforts is great. However, we must understand their limitations and not be fixated on perfection. Continue Reading

How Understanding Shoppers Can Save Retail

We need to better understand shoppers. Why? Because retail is in crisis.

Investment in brick-and-mortar stores has declined 30% in the US and a staggering 50% in Europe. In the UK 50,000 of the 500,000+, high street stores are empty, that’s a whopping 10%. But that level can even be higher, double or triple that in some parts of the country. The government in the UK upped its rescue fund to a billion pounds and slashed its rates in the hope of lowering rents last year.

And as if all that weren’t enough, the pandemic has been the final straw. With its lockdowns and restrictions, covid has pushed many shops over the brink and into bankruptcy. If retail as we know it is to return to “normal” – and many, including the HBR have already declared this to be near impossible – it is important to understand what is going on in our shoppers’ brains.

 

Background

Shoppers, that’s you and me, are changing. We have an insatiable appetite for instant gratification and novelty. More clothes stores are shut down than any other category because sales have gone online. And eating at home is now the norm, other than cheap, fast food stores, so restaurants and bars are suffering too. Both of these trends have been further exacerbated by the pandemic of course.

So if bricks and mortar stores are in difficulty, are we helping our customers to buy online? I don’t even think so. It seems as if we are trying to benefit from their desire to do so. Something rather sinister has been happening. Let me show you.

 

Capturing Customer Data

Online, even more than offline depends upon capturing customer data. Retailers need it to deliver products of course, but we all seem to have become data mad! We collect masses of information from our (potential) customers and then probably do very little with it all. But in the process, we have surely alienated a few, if not many would-be shoppers, to the point of them abandoning their carts and buying elsewhere.

According to MarketingCharts.com, shoppers now believe that their data benefits companies and brands more than it does themselves.

In the Janrain report “Brand Trust Survey” 48% of US internet users try to buy exclusively from companies they trust to protect their personal data. But most don’t trust us with their data, and for good reason, it seems. As claimed by Thales, 75% of US retailers have experienced a data breach, 50% in the last year, up from 19% in 2017. Despite this high level and mistrust, one thing shoppers do agree on is that technology has made things better for them.

More than three out of five consumers say retail technologies have improved their shopping experiences, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Eight in 10 say that they’ve had better interactions as a result of these technology investments. This is further proof that retailers should be actively seeking out new, advanced retail technologies. Continue Reading

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