Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. But with the advent of digital in the early 80’s, companies began taking a serious look at their marketing strategies.
Many organisations realised that it was time for a major overhaul of their primarily outbound strategies. Consumers no longer appreciated being interrupted in their daily lives, if they ever did!
However, even today, with the creation of inbound marketing strategies, they are still irritating their customers with spammy emails, intrusive pop-ups and over-complicated cookies, that gather far more information than most organisations will ever need or use.
Many large CPG companies, such as P&G, Coca-Cola and Nestle, have changed the name of their Marketing departments in the past twenty years, to Brand Building. They hoped that it would revive sales and give new vitality to their communications to better engage their customers in the new social world. But most failed miserably, because they remained very much in a state of business as usual. They continued with the same processes and mind-sets. And with few exceptions, they prioritised thoughts about themselves and their brands, and rarely took their customers’ perspective.
Luckily a few other consumer goods companies realised that to satisfy the consumer they had to do things differently. They were the ones that moved to customer centricity. Or to be exact they started on their journey towards putting the customer at the heart of their business. Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey with the aim to satisfy and delight.
I think we have taught our customers far too well! They understand a lot more about “marketing” than they used to. They understand that companies have marketing plans and regular promotions, so they wait for the next price offs whenever they can.
They also realise that in today’s world, products have become more and more similar. Their format, colour or perfume may differ, but there are strong similarities in their performance.
That’s why consumers now often have a portfolio of brands from which they choose in many categories. They are far less likely to be loyal to only one brand than they used to be.
They have also come to expect constant innovation as they quickly adapt to the once novel idea and start searching for the next big improvement. According to Accenture’s “Customer 2020: Are You Future-Ready or Reliving the Past?” almost a half of consumers believe that they are more likely to switch brands today compared to just ten years ago!
In response to these ever more savvy customers, marketing has to change. In the 2015 Korn Ferry CMO Pulse Report, it confirmed that marketers need new skills and can no longer rely on creativity alone.
If you’re interested in upskilling your team, then we can provide fun training on many areas of customer centricity. Download our training brochure and then contact us so we can discuss your precise needs. All our courses are personalised to meet your specific requirements; no off-the-shelf trainings are ever given.
Companies that place their customers at the heart of their business, are easy to recognise. Their websites are filled with useful information, entertaining videos and engaging games. Their contact pages provide many alternative ways for customers to reach out to them, rather than the less appealing reason menu and message box that disappears into hyperspace! Their advertising is emotional, with the customer and not the brand as the hero. They involve their customers in many aspects of their business.
And if you're not sure how good your customer centricity is, just take a look at your own website and then complete our free quiz C3C Evaluator™.
Moving Beyond Brand Building
Whether you are still doing marketing or have already moved to brand building, here are some ideas that you can use to help you quickly move forward on your journey to greater customer centricity:
1. Place pictures of consumers everywhere, so people start to naturally think about them. This can be at the beginning and end of presentations, in your office reception, in the lifts or anywhere many employees spend time.
2. Whenever you take a decision, ask yourself "What would our consumers think about the decision we have just taken?" If they would disagree, then you should reconsider your options.
This will avoid such practices as hiding price increases by reducing pack content without telling the consumer. Or asking credit card details for the use of a "free" trial, in the hope that the customer will forget and be automatically charged for a service they may not want.
3. Review the content of your website in detail. If there are more "we's" than "you's" then you know what to do. And while you're online, check out your contact page for possible improvement opportunities, as detailed above.
4. Take a look at your target consumer description or persona / avatar. When was it last updated? If you don't even have a written document clearly describing them, then use C3Centricity's 4W™ Template until you develop your own. (you can download it for free HERE)
5. Examine your advertising. Who is the hero? Consider developing concepts that are more customer centric, by making use of your understanding of them and their emotional triggers.
6. If you are lucky enough to have retail outlets, spend time with your front-line staff and your customers. Make use of call centers, in-store promotions and merchandisers to talk to your customers, as well as to the employees who connect with them. They will almost certainly be able to tell you a lot more about your customers than you yourself know. Then add the information to your persona description and review your future promotions for any improvements you could make.
7. Share your latest knowledge about your customers with everyone in the company. Help every employee to understand the role they play in satisfying the customer. Make them fans of your customers and you will never have to worry about such questionable practices as those mentioned in #2 above.
These are your seven starter tasks for moving from marketing and brand building, to a more customer centric approach. They all have your customer at the heart of them. Any others you'd like to add? I know you can come up with many more ideas than I can alone, so why not share them below and let your knowledge shine?
If you'd like more suggestions about moving to a new-age marketing approach, please check out my book "Winning Customer Centricity". You'll see it's like no other business book you have ever seen! Then you will understand why numerous major CPG / FMCG companies follow it annually. It's fun, inspiring and a useful roadmap for your customer centric journey.
If you're interested in upskilling your team, then we can provide fun training on many areas of customer centricity. Download our training brochure and then contact us so we can discuss your precise needs. All our courses are personalised to meet your specific requirements; no off-the-shelf trainings are ever given.
I’ve just returned from a trip to Belgium. Apart from the greater presence of armed military personnel, it was business as usual. On Tuesday, I presented at BAQMaR, the Belgian very innovative and forward-thinking research community. What a fantastic and inspiring experience!
My talk was on how market research and insight teams could further progress the industry and their careers, by becoming the customer’s voice within their organizations. Here are my three Big Ideas and three New Skills that will enable market research to make a bigger and more valuable impact on business.
Big Data is not the star of the show, it’s just the support act
Everyone seems to be speaking about big data these days. Not a day goes by without an article, podcast or post about the importance of big data. I don’t dispute the new opportunities that information from smart chips, wearables and the IoT provides. However, data remains just a support to business and decision making. It’s what you do with all the data, how it is analyzed and used, that will make a difference compared to past data analysis.
Business doesn’t get what it needs
One of the problems that has been highlighted by BusinessIntelligence.com is that business leaders and especially marketing don’t get what they need. Executives still struggle with email and Excel spreadsheets whereas what they want are dashboards. They want someone to have thought about their needs and to provide them with the information they need, in a format that is easy to scan, easy to review and easy to action. They also want mobile access, so they can see the I formation they want, where and when they need it.
Information must become smarter
The current data overload means marketing are overwhelmed by the availability of data, especially from social media. They need help in organizing and making sense of it all. My suggestion is to use it to better underst and the customer. The who, what, where and above all why of their attitudes and behavior. This will certainly enable them to start targeting with more than the demographics that a frighteningly high number are still using to segment, according to AdWeek.
Information needs to become useful
While big data can have many uses, it is often so complex and unstructured that many businesses are unable to make it useful for business decision-making. My suggestion would be to start by asking the right questions of it. Data, both big and small, is only as useful as the questions we ask of it. (>>Tweet this<<) If we ask the wrong question we can’t get the answers we need. Therefore start by considering what attitudes or behaviors you want to change in your customers. By bringing the customer into the beginning and not just the end of the analytical process, we will make better use of the information available to us.
Market research and insight teams need new skills
In order to satisfy and leverage the opportunity that big data provides, market research and insight professionals need to acquire new skills:
Firstly that of synthesis. There are no better analysts in most organizations and while data scientists and business intelligence specialists can find correlations and differences in the data, it needs a customer expert to provide the meaning and relevance. This also means that market research and insight experts need to get comfortable integrating information from multiple sources and no longer from MR projects alone. (>>Tweet this<<)
Secondly market researchers need to get out more. Not only should they be visiting customers in their homes, in the stores or going about their daily lives, they should also be inviting their colleagues to do the same. There are so many ways of connecting with customers today, from care lines to social media, from promotions to websites, there is no reason for any executive not to have regular contact these days. (>>Tweet this<<) However, they need someone to accompany them to bring sense to what they are seeing and hearing.
Lastly, we need to surprise the business. It’s not with the dare I say boring trend reports, share presentations and trackers that we will excite business. However, sharing all the nuggets of underst anding that we learn on a frequent basis while analyzing information, could form the start of corridor conversations, newsletters or “Lunch and Learn” sessions.
So synthesizing, socializing and surprising beyond mere storytelling, are the three new skills I believe the analyst of today needs, in order to make maximum use of the wealth of data and information available. These are also the biggest challenges that I think are the most important; what do you think? What do you see as the most challenging aspect of making use of data today?
For more on br ands please check out our website or contact us here for an informal chat about how we support br and building efforts or provide fun training days to businesses in all sorts of industries. We love customers, consumers and clients!
This post includes concepts and images from Denyse’s book Winning Customer Centricity. You can buy it in Hardback, Paperback or EBook format in the members area, where you will also find downloadable templates and usually a discount code too.
The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook and in all good bookstores. It is also now available as an Audiobook, which can be integrated with Kindle using Amazon’s new Whispersync service.
Last week I presented at the first Swiss Business Intelligence Day. It was an inspiring conference to attend, with world-class keynote speakers opening the day. They included Professor Stephane Garelli from IMD, Philippe Nieuwbourg from Decideo and Hans Hultgren from Genesee Academy.
After such an illustrious start, you can imagine that I was more than a little nervous to present my very non-IT perspective of business intelligence. However, the presentation did seem to go down well, so I want to share with you some of the ideas I talked about. Not surprisingly, with my passion for customer centricity and always with the end-user in mind, I took quite a different perspective from that of the majority of IT experts who were present.
BI should Collaborate More
With the explosion of data sources and the continuous flow of information into a company, managing data will become a priority for everyone.
The Big Data market, which more than doubled last two years, is forecast to triple in the next four, according to Statista. BI will have to exp and its perspective, work with more varied sources of information and exp and its client base.
In the past BI was inward looking. It ran data-mining exercises, reviewed corporate performance, developed reports and occasionally dashboards. It was, and still is in many organisations, mostly concerned with operational efficiencies, cost-cutting and benchmarking.
The above plot is my own, simplified view of how BI fits into data management within most organisations today. The other three quadrants are:
Competitive intelligence (CI) uses external competitor knowledge to support internal decision-making. Although BI is sometimes considered to be synonymous with CI because they both support decision-making, there are differences. BI uses technologies, processes, and applications to analyze mostly internal, structured data. CI gathers, analyzes and disseminates information with a topical focus on company competitors.
Investor Relations (IR) uses internal data to get external people, such as shareholders, the media or the government, to support and protect the company and its views.
Market Research (MR) on the other h and is mostly outward looking. It studies customers’ behaviours & attitudes, measures images & satisfaction, and tries to underst and feelings & opinions. That information is then used, primarily by marketing, to develop actions and communications for these same customers.
The four quadrants, even today, usually work in isolation, but that will have to change with this new data-rich environment in which we are working.
BI is Ripe for Change
According to a recent (Jan 2014) Forbes article, BI is at a tipping point. It will need to work in new ways because:
it will be using both structured and unstructured data
there will be a consolidation of suppliers
the internet of things will send more and more information between both products and companies.
thanks to technology, data scientists will spend more time on information management & less time on data preparation. At present it is estimated that they spend 80% of their time on data cleaning, integration and transformation, and only 20% on its analysis!
In February GigaOM echoed these thoughts, claiming that we are not in BI 2.0 but rather 4.0. They said the volume of data and the number of people now exposed to it, makes data availability to everyone essential. No longer does BI involve only the CEO and IT specialists, it concerns everybody.
Google glass, as tested by Virgin, is a good example of this. It delivers real-time, on time and relevant information to Virgin’s hosts and hostesses, to meet, greet and advise its passengers. Their customer support team can accompany their VIP guests and warn them of delays and gate changes as they happen. Google Glass enables them to get out from behind their desks and interact more with the guests they are trying to please.
BI must Deliver More Synthesised Knowledge
According to a recent Business Intelligence reporton management’s opinion of their data, they are currently frustrated. They say that it comes from many disparate sources and is rarely if ever available in real-time. They can’t easily access it without the help of IT and it takes too long to customise it to what they need. What is particularly interesting in the findings, is that management were not saying that they don’t need information; in fact it actually looks as if they want to have access to more data. BUT more of it in a way that makes it easy to find what they want, when they want it.
Another finding from the survey shows executives’ thoughts about data delivery. Currently they are getting their information primarily through emails and spreadsheets. I find this shocking that today we still expect management to take the time to wade through all the data in order to draw their own conclusions. Less than one in eight of the C-suite is getting dashboards, which is their preferred medium (>>Tweet this<<). They also want mobile delivery so that they can access information on the go.
This study provides us with a simple plan to satisfy their needs and to help us meet our own challenges of data abundance. This is what we should prioritize, since we can no longer continue to do what we’ve always done in the same way we’ve always done it. The BI priorities are as simple as ABC; accessibility, business impact and consistency (>>Tweet this<<).
BI needs to Provide Simplified Access
Information should be provided where and when it is needed and in such a way as to have most impact on the business. This means making it easy to review, and quick and simple to draw conclusions. This is why the number one dem and from business is dashboards.
Dashboards have the advantage of imposing consistency (>>Tweet this<<) so no time is lost in underst anding what the information is showing. With the availability of more information, comes the challenge to make it available to more people. And more people will also mean more and different needs.
To underst and the accessibility challenge I find the tree is a great metaphor for what we struggle to achieve. The roots can be compared to all the different sources of information we have at our disposal. The trunk is like all the integrated information that is reported in dashboards and the branches, twigs and leaves are the different data warehouses we create.
Whilst a one-page overview is sufficient for management, others will need greater granularity. Therefore we need to make information available at different levels of detail. My experience suggests three types of information sharing.
The leaves are like data warehouses where the raw or nearly raw data sits
The twigs are the information repositories where analysed data and information resides
And the branches are the knowledge libraries where the integrated actionable insights sit
What I have learned from setting up numerous data warehouses, information repositories and knowledge libraries, is that it is not easy. Not because of any technical complexity, but because of winning the needed internal support for the project and getting the essential acceptance for global access to the information. It takes more than technology, it takes a culture change in many cases too, and this is the real challenge. Stopping the “information is power” mentality means finding ways to counter the opposition who claim confidentiality of their own data whilst also requesting access to everyone else’s. In addition, even if people need information, they will generally not make the effort to go looking for it, if there is an easier way, such as by asking someone else! All these issues need to be resolved for an integrated database project to succeed.
One way to encourage the culture change mentioned earlier, is to demonstrate the business impact of what you are providing. The desired impact won’t come by delivering spreadsheets, it will come from dashboards (>>Tweet this<<).
So how do you summarise a company in a one-page dashboard, especially those which are present in multiple categories, globally? Well, often the simplest way is not to try to cover the total business, but rather the top categories and markets that would cover 70% – 80% of total sales. In most cases this would be sufficient to underst and the main priorities for management.
Of course at category level each business unit should be able to get access to more detailed information, as should the regional presidents, if you are working in such a complex business environment.
The real power of dashboard information will come from data integration, where both internal and external information are synthesised, for a holistic view of the business. I have worked on several projects that combined internal information with consumer data for a complete business report. The consumer information came from promotions, call centres and CRM activities, and was combined with market research on product and communications performance, to provide a solid base of consumer underst anding. This can then be presented alongside the more usual financial information that executives are already receiving. Having a complete overview of the business has far more impact than individual, silo’d summaries and enables management to make decisions more quickly and easily.
Another challenge when setting up and integrating databases, is in the harmonisation of their master data. When you are working with consumer data, this challenge can be multiplied by ten if not one hundred. For example, consumers will talk about a pizza, without specifying the br and, sub-br and, variant, flavour, packaging and size that would be used by the business to define it. So you have to find a way to translate what the consumer is saying, into the products as recorded internally.
The consistency of the master data will even increase in importance and complexity, with the expansion in available data sources. In addition, the fact that more people will get involved, will confound things even more, since their needs will differ.
Asking Better Questions of the Data
Accessibility, business impact and consistency are vital to the success of the new BI’s data management and usage, but I feel the urge to add one more thing. That of asking the right questions of the data. Although BI is used to asking questions, I think Market Research (MR) are the real experts in questioning. Therefore they should be involved in ensuring integrated databases are combined in such a way as to permit easy extraction of whatever level of information is required, or whatever perspective might be taken.
For example, BI is used to running forecasts. Those usually start from a review of past data and current reality to develop forecasts based on complex algorithms. They will do this within their teams with perhaps input from finance. MR on the other h and, is more likely to work from societal trends and develop plausible future scenarios, brainstorming across the organisation to gather a wide array of perspectives. Both perspectives are complementary and combined, they make a powerfully readied organisation.
Making more data more accessible to more people will certainly help this question development, as I think getting the right answers depends upon asking the right question, don’t you?
These were just a few of the ideas I shared at the Swiss BI Dayin Geneva. How do you see business intelligence adapting and changing as a result of the increased information availability happening today?
C³Centricity used images and graphs from Statista, Microsoft and Virgin in this post.
A recent report I came across this week shows that 76% of marketers do not use behavioral information in either segmentation analysis or targeting. They have the data, they’re just not taking advantage of it to better identify and then satisfy their consumers. This shocked me, so I went looking for more information to clarify the situation.
The study was conducted in late 2013 by Razorfish and Adobe amongst marketing and technology executives in the US, Canada, Germany, France and the UK. According to Pete Stein, CEO of Razorfish, the two main reasons for this lack of usage are firstly that today’s marketers are driving consumer segmentation with outdated technology, processes and tools, and secondly that there is an exponential growth in the availability of behavioral data.
In another study called “From Stretched to Strengthened” IBM reports that 71% of CMOs feel unprepared to h andle today’s “data explosion”. A third study, Domo‘s “2013 Data-driven marketing survey” found that two-thirds of marketers feel unable to h andle the volume of marketing data that’s available for analysis without feeling overwhelmed, and concluded that there were five reasons why this is the case:
69% don’t have the time to analyse it
66% can’t see it integrated
44% don’t have the time to collect it
40% don’t have access across devices
40% can’t see it in real time
These statistics suggest some interesting, no vital, changes that business intelligence / planning / market research / insight (BI) departments should make to address these needs of marketers. Once made, they would increase their perceived value and recognition, as well as that of the marketing department as well. Now that can’t be bad can it?
Here are my thoughts on each of them:
No time to analyse the data
I personally believe that if the support function (BI) was doing its job properly, marketing wouldn’t have to analyse the data. In fact I don’t think it is, nor should it be, their responsibility. Of course, this does mean that BI should be attributed with the appropriate levels of resources in both time and personnel to run the analyses and generate actionable insights.
Studies conducted every couple of years by the market research arm of the Corporate Executive Board (MREB), consistently show that world-class businesses have BI departments that have progressed from methodological experts to insight consultants, and then to knowledge synthesizers. Therefore unless you allow your team to develop in this direction, the onus for analysis will remain a challenge.
Can’t see the data integrated
Even before Big Data became a buzz word, companies have struggled to break down the internal silos of information ownership. The ever-increasing flow of data into organisations has just made the matter worse, so that it can no longer be ignored. Information integration may dem and a significant investment in both time and money, but the rewards are huge.
For example, from my own experience with clients, I have witnessed a grocery retailer increase sales by 15% whilst decreasing its promotional & discount allowances by 13%. This was achieved by simply making better use of the information they already had, and enabled them to make more relevant suggestions and offers to their customers. Airlines too are realising increased buy-in of their vacation and flight promotions, through more timely and relevant mailings to precisely segmented customer groups. That was only possible because they integrated the information from their different departments.
Don’t have time to collect the data
For me the problem is actually no longer simply not having the time to collect the data, but a rather subtle adaptation of our expectations to near real-time data availability today. We have all become less patient and this as true for the CEO, as it is for the CMO and on downwards.
Marketing must become more agile and flexible to be able to react to the latest data and adjust their actions and communications accordingly. Why continue to reward retailers with promotional pricing for items that are not flying off their shelves? The money could be better spent elsewhere, whether at a different retailer more aligned to the targeted segment, or even to another type of action.
Don’t have access across devices
It amazes me that so many people are still struggling to acknowledge that the PC is rapidly losing out to tablets. In fact, according to the International Data Corp. tablets will outsell PCs within the next year or so. IDC also says that while global smartphone salesin 2013 were up by 39% over 2012, they’re expected to grow by only around 19% this year.
However, as more smartphones get connected to cars as presented at the recent Geneva Car Show, marketers will be expecting to review their latest audience data or sales during their drive into work. It therefore makes sense to enable cross-device accessibility.
As an aside, I hope marketers also underst and what this trend means to their communication plans and how they connect with and engage their consumers.
Can’t see data in real time
With the never-ending flow of information into organisations it makes sense that marketers dem and to be able to look at the latest data in real time. Retail or audience data that is a month or even a few weeks out of date is of little use in this fast-paced world in which we live. Marketers will also expect market research to provide direct access to consumers and become less and less patient of studies that take weeks if not months to complete.
My conclusion from all of this is that the C-Suite needs to invest even more in data management for marketers and not only for the financial results to which they have become accustomed. They should not dem and the ROI of marketing without empowering marketers to be able to analyse the data available to them. What do you think?
C³Centricity used images from Microsoft and Mashable in this post.
There have been many discussions lately about new marketing and how the function of the marketer has changed in recent years. The position has gone from a primarily creative role to one encompassing many new competencies.
As if that wasn’t difficult enough, marketing is also being challenged more and more to prove its ROI to the business, whilst at the same time being “forced” to get intimate with IT. These are very tough times for marketers. That is why I thought I would add my support and sympathy with a few ideas on how to make your life a little easier.
It is no longer sufficient to publish great content on the web. Marketers are required to constantly challenge their own thinking and to improve what they are doing. A/B testing is now C/D/E and almost every other letter of the alphabet.
Great is no longer enough and anyway doesn’t stay great for long in the eyes of the customer. They are now (too) quickly losing their first positive impressions, accept as normal what was surprising just one week earlier and are soon off looking for something better.
IDEA: It is essential to work out a detailed plan of online activities, just like any other section of the marketing plan. Decide who will publish what and when, and make sure it aligns with and supports your offline events. Incorporate testing of content and headlines into your plans too, but always leave a little space and flexibility for topical content should something inspiring happen in the marketplace. Think Oreos at the 2013 SuperBowl.
Prepare to be challenged
Although I don’t know whether P&G were prepared for last week’s direct Greenpeace attack on their Head & Shoulders br and, it is not something they can easily ignore. After a similar attack on Nestle’s KitKat last year, it is clear that customers feel empowered to verbalise discontent in a ferocious manner. For this reason, it is vital to be prepared for as many possible eventualities as possible. This is where future scenario planning can be of immense support.
IDEA: Watch how other br ands are being called up short and consider what you would do if something similar happened to one of your br ands. Spend time studying societal trends (you are of course following them, aren’t you?) and then develop a few plausible future scenarios. The easiest way is probably to identify the two most important axes of uncertainty and then to describe each of the four worlds created. Review and agree what marketing and management would need to do in each of these situations.
Proving what you’re worth
Marketing has never been so closely scrutinised nor challenged as in recent years. The wealth of information being produced thanks to new technologies makes it arguably easier to measure activities than ever before. So marketing is being challenged by the business to prove its ROI. It is no longer acceptable to claim the lack of direct relationships between actions and outcomes, because of the wealth of data available.
IDEA: Review and agree with management the KPIs that you both consider to be indicators of marketing success. And then measure them, regularly if not permanently. Read this article for the top ten KPIs you should be following. Real-time information has become the new norm and although challenging at times, it does provide the advantage of the possibility for a quick response when things are not going according to plan.
Getting more comfortable with data
It has never been a priority for marketing to befriend the IT department in their own organisation, but that time has come. But marketers need help in managing all the data available to them and for this they require systems and platforms. As was reported in a recent Domo report, the majority of marketers would work with data more often if they had the time and it was all in one place instead of dispersed across platforms.
IDEA: Work with IT to develop a system to provide easy access to the KPIs you’ve identified as of most relevance. Also develop dashboards that summarise all you activities on one page and into just a few, if not one single number – which management too will appreciate.
Get intimate with your customers
Just in case you haven’t heard, your customer is in control and that includes of your own marketing in many instances. From venting their dissatisfaction on social media, to boycotting your br ands when they don’t agree with your sustainability or sourcing efforts, today their voice is most definitely heard. If you still don’t have company objectives which include spending time with your customers then you need to set this up – urgently.
IDEA: Introduce your whole organisation to your customers and make sure you put them first in every single thing you and the company does. There are so many ways for people to get a better underst anding of their customers and rather than feeling you are losing control, you can lead the area and get additional recognition as a customer representative, rather than “just” a defender of br ands. That is in my opinion the only real future for marketing.
These are just five ways that marketing is being tested today and hopefully my ideas have inspired you enough to see this as an opportunity rather than as a threat. Let me know what you have introduced in your own organisation to meet these new challenges, or maybe others you yourself have faced; I’m sure everyone would love to learn from you.
C³Centricity used images from Microsoft, Forbes & Greenpeace in this post.
This week I’ve been helping a client create a new website. He had already mapped out what he wanted to include in it and he provided me with pages of ideas and possible content. Have you ever noticed how it is much harder to rewrite or adapt something, than it is to create from scratch? (>>Click to Tweet<<)How difficult it is to “unlearn” behaviours? Whether it is changing the content of a website, editing the script for a play or book, or adopting new habits, it always dem ands far more effort than the original creation itself. Why is this?
One reason is that we humans like comfortable solutions. We always look for the easiest and simplest way of doing things. That’s why you can find yourself in your car in front of your garage with no memory of the drive back home. You know the way so well, you’ve been on autopilot and your brain has been thinking about other things.
To break a habit, find and avoid the habit trigger
Moving house disrupts many existing habits
So how does this apply to our work? Well firstly, if you are looking to measure behaviour, customers are likely to struggle when referring to the reasons for certain habits, since they have been adopted and now take little mental power (points 4 & 5 above). This is why retailers sometimes change the layout of their stores – although that can also have a negative impact too – to make their shoppers think about what they buy and perhaps also tempt them to try new products or categories.
Reading the above list, it may sound like it will be difficult to break a habit, but as the last point mentions, disruption makes it much easier to change. Think about the arrival of a new boss, the introduction of a new structure or some other event in business, it can result in many habitual tasks being re-evaluated and even replaced. Read on to find a few ideas on how you can make some perhaps necessary changes of your own.
Tracking Br and Equity
Last week I wrote about the importance of tracking the three areas of customer br and value: those of functional / rational, emotional / subjective and relational / cultural. Now before you congratulate yourself on measuring the complete spectrum of image attributes, ask yourself how long you have been working with exactly the same list. We all love consistency and comparability but that is often just an excuse to avoid the hard work of evaluating the current metrics and deciding what needs to be added, replaced and removed.
The marketplace for so many – dare I say all? – products and services is moving so fast today that your attributes need to be regularly reviewed and adapted to the new market environment.
Tracking Usage & Awareness
Are you still measuring usage through an omnibus paper or telephone interviews? Look into the possibility of online or mobile as both a quicker and cheaper method of data gathering. Or what about using automatic data gathering from mobile phones, online websites, or smart chips on your products? Of course you will need to conduct comparative runs before switching methodologies, but you may find you get more acceptance from the consumers contacted and easier and swifter returns of information into the organisation.
Do you continue to buy a st andard service and reporting for following societal trends, just like your competitors do? How about extending trend following into scenario planning? It will make more use of your current service and will provide a significant competitive advantage. (>>Click to Tweet<<)
Replacing Reports by Stories
There is so much talk about the value of storytelling that I hope I don’t need to explain this point, but have you done anything to integrate it into your own work? One of C³Centricity’s partners (SciFutures) just produced a short and inspiring summary of the key themes and ideas generated at FT2013 (2013 Foresight & Trends Conference). However, they did it through telling a science fiction narrative, rather than by writing the usual report. I would highly recommend checking it out here and then I dare you to tell me that you would have preferred to read a conference report instead!
So these are just a few habits that it might be worth considering to change in your work environment. Do you have others that your know you should break? If so I would love to know what they are and more importantly, what is stopping you from bringing those needed changes? Let me know because perhaps I just might be able to help.
Did you know C³Centricity runs training workshops and support sessions on revamping your Market Research Toolbox and Processes? Contact us to learn more.
Last month I invited readers to share some of the problems and challenges they need to address in 2014. I offered a free consultation to one lucky winner who asked the most interesting question, which could also be of interest for me to answer for other readers.
Well, the winner is Jean-Francois (JF) who has just started working with a start-up in the tech and app areas – I feel that’s more and more of us these days, don’t you? His question was:
“I would like to commercialize a new XXX; what would be the right approach to identify the consumer need and then the market potential, considering that the company has very limited financial resources?”
This is a great question and a reminder that not every organisation has access to large market research or marketing departments and extensive budgets. In fact, in many companies these roles are being h andled by one and the same person with very few resources; is that your case? If so then you will definitely find this post of interest, but even if it isn’t, I’m sure you will still find value from the ideas shared.
As I had promised, I gave Jean-Francois a one-on-one consultancy which ended up lasting several hours, as he had planned well for our session together. He also happens to be really passionate about his innovative idea, as well as in finding solutions to all his challenges.
The product JF and his team want to launch doesn’t exist on the market today, although there are some products which are unsuccessfully trying to address the perceived customer need. The proportion of product launches which fail every year is generally “accepted” to be about 95% – although why companies continue to accept such levels is beyond me! With such odds, I think it is incredibly courageous to start a whole company based around just one new product idea, but that seems to be the norm in many areas today.
Let’s start by taking a look at some of the reasons new products fail and identify ways to reduce if not completely eliminate them for your next launch.
The process itself: Innovation is by definition a creative process, but many organisations use a well-worn, restrictive and uncreative process to develop their new products. They are at best most likely to come up with renovations than true innovations. The solution is to introduce some creativity into the process, and why not include potential customers in the process too?
Meeting company quotas: It is surprising that with such miserable statistics concerning the likely success rate of new products, that so many companies – and which shockingly include many of the largest CPGs around – fix quotas on the number of annual new product launches. How crazy is that?! It just encourages too many new products to be launched too early, and almost guarantees failure! I believe it would be much better to seriously limit the levels of acceptance amongst all new product ideas proposed in any year, then only the best would get through.
Lack of customer underst anding: This is most likely one of, if not the most important reason for new product launch failures. And I don’t mean that you should ask the customer what he wants, he doesn’t know until you make it available to him in many industries. No, I mean starting by looking at a customer’s lifestyle and seeing how you can make it easier and more enjoyable for them. If you already have a new product idea, which was the case for JF, then consider how it would make the customer’s life easier or better. If it doesn’t, then you perhaps need to reassess its market appeal.
Lack of category underst anding: This follows on from customer underst anding, in that you need to identify how the customer is currently working around or compensating for their need today. Don’t assume you are competing in a certain category until you have identified what the customer is currently doing or using. That is the way to identify your true competition.
Not living up to your promises: If you promise a better, cheaper or more enjoyable experience, then customers deserve to be able to confirm this if they buy. Especially in today’s connected world, if you disappoint by not meeting customers’ expectations, your product will fail even more quickly than in the past, since early-adopters will Tweet or leave comments on Facebook, Blogs or other social media platforms for all to see.
Not being sufficiently differentiated: Following on from living up to your promises, customers need a reason to change behaviours, and depending upon the category this can be costly, whether in time, money or effort. Many customers prefer to continue buying an inferior product or service than making the effort to change – think Telecom, Banking, Hotels, Air travel or Insurance as some of the most typical examples of such industries. These businesses are in a constant battle to differentiate themselves and provide a real advantage to attract new customers.
Being too different: Whilst not being sufficiently differentiated can be a certain cause of failure, being too new can also meet with no success. The reason for this is that if customers are totally unfamiliar with the new product or service offering, you will need to spend considerable resources to educate them. If you are unable or not willing to invest the time and money in doing this, then you will undoubtedly fail to attract more than just a few customers who take the time to underst and what you are offering.
Pricing yourself out of the market: Here I’m not just speaking of pricing your product too high; being too low can also negatively impact your likely success. Underst anding how much potential customers value your offer to essential to the success of any product. Getting it wrong can result in lost revenue or worse a promotional spiral leading to br and hell (read more about this in “Are you on the way to br and heaven or hell“)
Inappropriate distribution: This can be the consequence of an incomplete underst anding of your customer and is also linked to differentiation. Whilst you can just follow near competitors into their own distribution channels, why ignore the possibility of being available where and when your customer might buy it most? By reducing the effort necessary to change their habits and buy, you can attract more potential customers to at least try your new product.
Being too far ahead of the customer: There are many examples of great products that were ahead of their time. Gillette brought out 2–in–1 shampoos with conditioners included in the early 70’s, but they were a dramatic flop. Ten years later most personal care manufacturers offered these products, and were met with huge success, even if such products have gone out of fashion somewhat since then. It took Nespresso almost twenty years to become profitable and Philip Morris has needed similar levels of patience for their most infamous of br ands Marlboro, in many markets. If you can’t afford to wait for your customers to catch up with your new product idea, then you should certainly reconsider your launch decision.
These are ten of the most common reasons for new product launch failure. Which do you think is most prevalent in your own company? What are you going to change to increase the success of your own new products? Is it some other reason altogether, that I’ve missed? Let me know and share your thoughts below.
Coming back to JF, most of our time together was spent discussing ways to collect information on many of the above points. As he has little budget for extensive market research, it was important for him to find other ways of gathering the much needed information and not to just bypass that stage; perhaps many people don’t bother to search out the information they need to truly assess the likely success of their new product, which would explain the high failure rate mentioned above.
By the end of my session with JF, he had a clear plan of action and I have since heard that he is progressing incredibly fast, so watch this space for an announcement concerning the launch of his new device.
I will be sharing the tips I gave him in a future blog post, but in the meantime feel free to continue sending me your own questions; I’m always ready to have a short Skype or phone call to assist you with your own marketing and innovation challenges.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about New Marketing; how communication is now all about engagement, how the consumer is boss and such like.
But there has been very little said about a New Market Research Department! If you’re concerned by this situation, whether you work in marketing, market research or a completely different area, then read on for some thoughts on how this situation can and must change.
Earlier this year I wrote about the future of market research / insight departments and what researchers need to do within their organisation to improve their image and perceived value. This week I want to take a wider look at the profession in general.
Current Perception of Market Research
According to Wikipedia, Marketingis “The process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service. It is a critical business function for attracting customers” The definition of Market Research is “Any organized effort to gather information about markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy”.
What is interesting in comparing these two definitions is the difference in appreciation of the value to business of the two. Marketing is said to be a “critical function”, whereas Market Research is said to be “very important”. Perhaps this is why Market Research Departments continue to be hammered, their budgets are constantly under pressure and their value to the business is questioned.
Well, things are about to change, or at least there is an opportunity for this, if researchers take up the incredible chance offered to them in today’s world of information (over?) abundance. You can’t continue to do the same old same old when marketing, and more importantly the consumer, is clearly on the move.
What Business gets from Market Research
I think that one of the biggest problems that Market Research has (continues to have) is that Marketing and Management in general, find it too complex. What is often delivered from market research, BY researchers, tends to be numbers and findings, not underst anding, insight and recommendations.
We no longer need market research to share the numbers and information today. More and more often, these are coming automatically into companies from an ever-growing number of sources, and a lot of it is even in real-time, something market research results never were! Think sensors on products, GPS on smart phones, retail purchases with debit / credit / loyalty cards, social media interactions …. DataShaka recently wrote in their The Lab an interesting perspective on data management and information sources which you might want to check out.
That’s a lot of data; indeed Aaron Zornes, chief research officer of The MDM Institute, was recently quoted in Information Management as saying that “a typical large company with (has) 14,000 or so databases on average”. And most of that data will be just sitting around in IT storage systems, rarely reviewed and even less likely to be integrated for meaningful knowledge development. It needs analysts and who better to interpret the meaning of all this data than market research?
What the Market Research Department could Offer
What an incredible opportunity! The question is whether the market research profession is ready to take it up; whether researchers are ready to move from data gatherers (alone!) to interpreters and storytellers. Signs of the urgency for this change are everywhere. In a recent report by BusinessIntelligence.com (you can download the full report there), one of the conclusions drawn was that CEO’s are not getting what they need(from Big Data). Instead of Dashboards, they were more likely to be getting emails and spread sheets!
The market research profession took a small step to reinventing itself with the introduction of insight development, but this is still well within their comfort zone, and still not being done as effectively and consistently as it should. Today, market research / insight departments are being asked to make a much bigger leap into the realms of unknown territory, even for those already comfortable working with BigData.
The Questions you Need to Answer
In conclusion, here is what I believe all market research suppliers, agency and client-side researchers should be asking themselves today:
Am I ready to move from data gatherer and sharer, to synthesizer and interpreter?
Could I agree to the information I will be required to analyse NOT coming from statistically validated, representative samples of clearly identified populations?
Will I accept that I have little control over the data sources I do use and even less over the information that is streaming into the organisation for all to see?
Am I willing to shift from sending emails and spreadsheets, or presenting graphs and data, to speaking about how the world and consumers are changing?
Would I happily move from sharing descriptions of data and knowledge to telling stories built from it?
Can I get comfortable speaking about maybe just one or two consumers rather than about large(ish) groups of them?
Am I capable of accepting that true insight development doesn’t come from one study or database, but from information integration of multiple sources?
Am I ready to give up the name of my profession as market researcher?
If you can’t answer YES to all eight of these important questions, then I believe you should consider changing jobs, before you find yourself redundant and replaced by the information analytic, machine-learning “robots” of the future.
What do you think? Is it already too late for market research? Can the profession reinvent itself? ESOMAR, which claims to be “The essential organisation for encouraging, advancing and elevating market research worldwide” has been asking a lot of the right questions about the future of the profession recently, but it is up to researchers everywhere to make the change happen. Are you going to join the lead now, or follow reluctantly when your own management questions whether they really need a department that clings to the old ways of collecting and analysing information?
Let me know how you feel about your own market research position, whether you are a member of a supplier or client-side organisation. Are there other challenges or opportunities I forgot to mention? What name would you give to your future profession?
Need help in updating and reinventing your own market research department and responsibilities? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here
We all gather information about our customers. What do we do with it? We (hopefully) use it to inform our decisions and then it gets filed away. In some cases this is vertical (i.e. thrown away) but usually it is horizontal, to gather dust on a shelf somewhere that is soon forgotten. I think it’s time we changed this and turned our information investments into gold!
There are many, many ways to gather information about the customer: observation, listening, market research and external reports. I recently wrote about all the information on our customer that we should have at our disposition in a post called “12 Things you need to know about your target customers”. We need a lot of information to really know and underst and our customer and it clearly will not come from one single market research project or report. Therefore that knowledge must be built up over time and that is where the problem lies.
Often we forget we already have the information and go out and buy it again. This is particularly common when the marketing department changes its lead or members – which seems to be every year or two in many organisations these days! Everyone thinks they need more information, when they actually most likely need more insight. (I have written several posts on insight development, including “ Are you into insights or information?”) Therefore I thought it would be a good idea to share some ideas on resolving this situation, so that your hard-fought budget gets spent on gathering information that you don’thave available and really doneed.
#1. Review what you’ve got
Data, information and knowledge are only useful if they are analysed and converted into underst anding and insight. In today’s data-rich environment, this is often where companies struggle the most. Next time you need information about your customer, start by reviewing the information and knowledge you already have, and also ask other departments who may need similar information, if they have it, before commissioning further research or report purchases.
#2. Share what you’ve got
One of the reasons companies spend money on gathering information that is already available internally, is because they don’t know it is! To help reduce this overspend, which unfortunately most suppliers will not inform you of, you need to make sure that everyone who might need the information is made aware of it and has access to it.
For one of my clients, we discovered that some external reports were being bought separately more than 20 times within the organisation! As if that wasn’t bad enough, several different departments were also buying access to the same databases, and others were doing almost identical pieces of market research at approximately the same time.
To avoid this:
make a review of information needs across the organisation, or across the region or globe if yours is an international business
make one person responsible for negotiating company-wide deals with suppliers; the savings made may even cover the cost of this position and is therefore well worth the investment
share plans for market research projects across businesses and look for opportunities to combine for further cost savings
#3. Store what you’ve got
Despite all the actions specified in #2. above, you may still find that there are times when unplanned information needs crop up. This is where a knowledge database or library becomes effective. It can be as simple as a folder on a shared drive or as complex as a bespoke platform, or anything in between. What is important is that is meets the needs of those looking for information and that all relevant people have easy access to it.
Whichever size of storage you decide on, I suggest first making an audit of information needs. This should cover both what is available, as well as what is needed and why. However be careful to distinguish between what people would like to have and what they actually need; I have found a wide difference between the two in many cases.
#4. Build your Library
Once you have identified the real needs of your organisation, it is time to build your Library. And don’t think once you have built it that people will immediately start to use it! They need to be encouraged to share their knowledge. In my experience, this can sometimes be met with concerns about the confidentiality of the information stored:
“I would love to see what everyone else has gathered, but of course my information is confidential and can’t be shared”
One possible solution to this is to provide right of use onlyto those who share their knowledge and information, ideally at similar levels to their access. “Greedy outliers” who take more than they give should then be easy to identify.
Another issue that can crop up with open sharing is management’s worry about leaking information to the competition, especially when employees leave the company. Although this is often an exaggerated risk, in most cases this can be significantly reduced by controlling information download. If certain projects, especially new product development, are considered to be too high a risk to share, then these can have a confidential “as needs” basis rule, or a time limit set on them before being made public.
#5. Mine the gold
The real gold from information sharing comes quickly once it starts to be a reality. Even for smaller knowledge libraries, I have found that within six months the available information starts to replace planned research projects or report purchases.
Once the Library is up and running, the next step is to start sharing your insights too. As mentioned in “ Five ideas to improve your insight development” insights can often be used across more categories than the one for which it was developed. In the post I share a couple of examples of them:
INSIGHT: Parents want to protect their children so that they grow up happy and healthy used by:
Unilever’s Omo and its “Dirt is Good”; see one of their ads on YouTube here
Nestlé’s Nido; check out one of their ads here. Interestingly Nestlé has also used this same insight for its bottled water in Asia and pet food in the Americas.
INSIGHT: Young women want to be appreciated for who they really are i.e. not models used by
Unilever’s Dove was the first br and to recognise and benefit from this insight with their infamous Real Beauty campaign; see one of their more recent ads here
The Swiss Supermarket chain Migros has a store toiletries br and “I am” which uses the same insight across all their health and beauty products, even using it for the br and name itself and advertising copy: “ I am – what I am“.
The power of information sharing goes a long way to increasing the return on information investments. Reviewing what you’ve already got, sharing and making it accessible to all, and then developing a library platform will all help increase its use whilst at the same time reducing the costs of market research and information gathering. So, what are you waiting for?
Have you developed your own system or library for information and insight sharing? If so please share your experiences and horror stories in the comments below. Everyone would love to know what some of the challenges may be for them when they follow your example.
Need help in negotiating your information contracts or in building an information / insight Library? Why not call us to discuss just how much you could be saving and increase your information ROI. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!
Last week I shared the twelve questions you need to be able to answer in order to ensure you really know your target audience. If you missed it, you can read it here.
The post certainly attracted a lot of hits, so I hope you have all found ways to improve your own customer understanding as a result of reading it. Comments welcome as always.
All brands and services need a group of customers that they are going to satisfy, since it is impossible to appeal to everyone most of the time. This means that you will need to make a choice about who you are going to target, which also implies that you must accept that you will also ignore some other category users.
Last week I read a really great post by Colin Nelson of HYPE on how a simple segmentation of employees enabled Swisslog to understand and improve participation in their innovation ideas campaigns. I highly recommend reading this case study as it shows how even the simplest grouping of a market – in this case employees – can be both actionable and successful.
Segmentation can be as simple or as complex as you like, but is essential for all successful businesses. If you yourself are struggling to understand your consumers, employees, retail customers, or any other group of people, perhaps a segmentation exercise is what you need to run.
Where to start
When deciding who to target, most companies will start by conducting some sort of data gathering. This could be as simple as identifying your users by what you observe, such as young men or large families, or as complex as gathering your customers’ values and motivations. As mentioned in last week’s post, the deeper the understanding of your target customer is, the more likely it is to provide you with a competitive advantage. The same also goes for segmentation.
Do you have the MIDAS touch?
Whatever method you use for segmenting and choosing your target group, the results of your exercise need to meet the following five conditions, known collectively as the MIDAS touch:
Measurable: The individual groups need to be clearly defined and quantifiable using KPI’s such as size, market share, value share Identifiable: Each segment must have a distinct profile and each customer must be attributed to only one segment Definable: Every cluster must be easy to describe and share with others, so that you have mutual understanding of each of them Actionable: The groups must be easy to identify, in order to be able to target your actions and communications to them Substantial: The chosen segment must be financially viable to target, which means that it should in general be stable or growing, and durable over the long term
All good segmentations or groupings will fulfil these five key conditions, so it is easy for you to evaluate the results of your segmentation exercise. If they do not meet these conditions, then you will struggle to target your actions to your chosen group of customers.
Why not take a look at your own segmentation right now and decide how it can be improved? This may be by completing the information you have on each group, or may make you realise that you need a whole new segmentation study. However, it is definitely worth getting target customer choice right, as this forms the foundation for your brands’ customer centricity.
Don’t have the resources? Here’s a solution
If you do not have the time, money, or expertise to run a detailed segmentation study, you can still make an informed decision of the best customer group to target. Use an analysis similar to the Boston Matrix, first developed in the 70′s by the BCG. At that time, it was created to help corporations analyse their business units and was based on market growth and relative market share. There are numerous free articles online explaining both the methodology and giving example plots; the one from MindTools is in my opinion one of the better sources.
Whilst the criteria you use for each axis can vary, this simple method has the advantage of being able to be completed over time, as you get more information. Examples of the criteria that can be used are:
Attractiveness: Segment size, segment growth, segment value, competitive environment, fit to the company or brand Ability to win: Product attractiveness to your customer, your distribution channels, your media mix, your reputation
Once you have positioned the different segments or groups of customers on the axes, you can easily see what needs to be done for each:
Target: these are your core customers to target, as they are both attractive to the business and easy for the company’s product or service to attract
Convert: these users can be attracted to your product or service but your ability to win them is currently low; you probably need to consider improving one of the elements of the marketing mix to attract them
Grow: your product or service can easily win these groups but perhaps they are not as profitable as you would like; review them from time-to-time or develop a different strategy to attract them
Ignore: many organisations struggle to make the decision NOT to go after a group of category users, but if you have neither the product / service nor the segment size that would be profitable to you, why spend time, money and energy going after them?
Choosing the right group of customers to satisfy with your product or service is essential for business success. So is doing everything you can to understand them as deeply as possible. Truly customer centric organisations excel at doing both; do you? Why not share your own success story on segmentation?
Need help in understanding and segmenting your current category customers or defining which group to target?
Next week is the official start of Spring in Europe, although in the US you have already moved your clocks forward by an hour.
Therefore, this seems to be a good time to review what market research we are running and spring-clean our toolbox in line with our new company objectives. If you would like some help in doing this then please read on for some original ideas on how to make it all easier.
In order to decide on the tools you need, it of course depends upon the maturity of your market, the size of your budget, as well as the position of your br ands in their life-cycles.
Last Spring, we used the 5Ps of marketing as a basis for the review of the market research toolbox; if you didn’t see it or would like to re-read it then you can find it here. This year I will be taking into account the three elements mentioned above and looking at how you might adapt the tools in consequence. Whatever stage your br and is in, however, there are some metrics that you will always want to follow. These include awareness, usage, product performance versus competition and advertising & communication (including pack and web) effectiveness.
Are you competing in a mature category or is it still growing strongly? Mature markets tend to change more slowly; consumers have their purchase habits settled and in some cases choose from amongst a portfolio of br ands, between which they switch depending upon current promotions.
If you are competing in such a market, then you can probably manage with monthly or bi-monthly or even less frequent data about stocks, pricing and shares. Unless a newcomer is launched onto the market, many mature categories have br ands that are being “milked” by their manufacturers, with perhaps little investment in communications. Therefore it is price that usually dominate share changes and can to a large extent be predicted.
In terms of market research needs, retail audits, price tracking and promotional monitoring are all important metrics to gather. Br and Image studies are also important, but can be limited to every few years, when real changes are more likely to be recorded. Too frequent measurement of a static market is likely to show only noise from sample error rather than true shifts in image. If you are in a service industry, then loyalty and satisfaction (NPS) metrics are also useful. (If you’re not quite sure what NPS is or how to use it, then HubSpot did a great Infographic a few months back that I recommend reading)
If however, you are competing in a new or strongly growing category, you will need far more frequent data in order to make informed decisions. In these cases, retail chain data, shares, stocks, out-of-stocks and pricing will be vital to follow, ideally on a weekly basis. Br and Image data should be gathered annually, but everyone should underst and that in a fast moving market, things can alter rapidly, so the ratings are merely snapshot comparisons versus competition. To complement image data, social media monitoring can provide additional information on how your br and’s equity may be changing. Check out what is being said on LinkedIn groups, your Facebook page and those of your competitors, as well as on Twitter using a “#word” search.
Size of the Budget
Although companies should invest wisely in terms of their information needs, in reality budgets are (too?) often defined based upon previous year’s spend rather than current investment needs. It is also not wise to rely solely on a sales percentage for market research, nor marketing come to that, since you should arguably invest more in a growing br and. Many times companies work with this percentage model which seriously limits the potential of promising br ands through lack of customer awareness and information for decision making.
In addition, when budgets are tight, organisations can sometimes be tempted to use qualitative research rather than the needed quantitative data. If you need metrics, then you have to run the appropriate methodology; decisions cannot be taken based upon a few group discussions alone. And please don’t think about doubling the number of groups to get a larger sample! The results will remain qualitative in nature whatever the sample size.
Br and Life-cycle stage
As mentioned above, we often need more information when a br and is stagnating or declining than when it is growing, to underst and exactly what is going on. You could argue that when it is decreasing it is (almost) too late, so in fact it is important to find ways to forewarn potential declines before they happen. In many cases a br and’s image will start to stagnate or decline long before there is any dip in sales. Therefore br and equity measurement is particularly vital for a maturing br and. Other ways to revitalise such br ands is through renovation and this is where concept and pack testing come into their own. You may also decide to look at pricing and new campaigns developments which will also need verification.
When a new product or service is launched, it is wise to do some quick tracking of off-take to gauge likely success. Early measurement can help you make small adjustments to the offer before many people have considered or tried it, reducing the risk of failure in the mid-term. Of course once launched the br and can also be added to your ongoing monitoring of the basic information mentioned above.
If you have information and answers to all of these questions, whatever the stage of your market, category or br and, then your MR house is in good order. If not, then perhaps it is time to update your toolbox with newer, better tools.
Do you review and Spring clean your toolbox every year? What changes have you identified as being needed in your own toolbox? It would be great to compare our spring cleaning efforts, so please add your thoughts in the comments below.
Need help running your own MR review? C3Centricity offers a 1-Day Catalyst session, where we work with your team to identify priorities & needed change in your processes. Contact us here for an informal chat about it. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!
Over the last few months we have heard many sc andals based upon the disappointing discovery of unfounded consumer loyalty and trust. Rigged football matches, numerous athletes taking illegal drugs and more recently the horse meat sc andal. Have you ever been faced with a loss of your customers’ trust in business? If so, or you believe that it could happen in the future, then this post is for you.
The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer report, published last month, concluded that there are clear signs of a leadership crisis in both business and government. In fact in many recent sc andals, leaders have not helped the situation when speaking out.
For instance, in the current horsemeat sc andal, several food manufacturers confirmed that their beef products did not contain horse-meat, only to withdraw their statements a few days later. What did they think they were doing? Trust is one of the most important elements of purchase and loyalty; it is difficult to win but so much easier to lose, as many companies have recently realised. In the end it comes down to being truly customer centric. Wouldn’t a customer prefer to hear a “We don’t know but we’re checking” rather than a categorical “No” that is replaced by an equally categorical but rather feeble “Yes” a few days, or even hours later.
“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong”
So why do so many companies have such problems with telling the truth? If you make a mistake, then own up and correct it: your customers will forgive you and forget it. And more importantly, your owning up to the event will confirm their belief that they can trust you in the future. They will continue to buy your products and services with confidence, trusting that they will live up to your promises.
If you pretend that things are OK when they are really not, you are more than likely to get found out eventually. An employee will talk, a government or industry association will run tests and you will be discovered lacking.
With all these sc andals of what one might call dishonesty, touching so many different industries, this seems to be a good time to talk about building, keeping and regaining your customers’ trust. Here is my starter list of five areas to review, but please add your own to the comments below:
Have you already identified the worst possible scenarios that could happen to your industry, your business, your br and? Do you know precisely how you would react in each and every case? When an incident happens it is already too late and the damage has started. By identifying upfront what may happen in each possible event, you have sufficient time to identify potential risks before issues reach dangerous levels.
Another factor of preparedness is to identify and to follow metrics that will provide you with an early warning system. When levels of certain critical elements get close to precise limits, you again have time to react before damage is done. Think about customer complaints, quality rejects, machine down-time, industry legal cases, whether yours or your competitors.
For each critical incident identified, assign jobs to people in all relevant departments. Who will communicate, both internally and externally? Who will adapt and replace sub-optimal products and services? Who will develop and launch new ones?
As with fire drills, exercises of disaster recovery can identify missing elements, whether time, money, or people. These can then be addressed well before they may be needed. No point in wishing you’d bought that extinguisher when the fire breaks out!
As with measurement, engaging your customers, partners, employees and even competitors in building industry trust will ensure that it will survive any crisis. However, at a company and br and level, customer and employee engagement becomes particularly important, since competition is often secretly hoping you will badly manage a negative situation, from which they might then benefit. By keeping communication open 24/7 you are much more likely to be able to respond without delay and in many cases even prevent issues from escalating into a full blown crisis.
If football and cycle team managers had kept to their jobs of management, and trying to be the best they could be without resorting to bribes, drugs or other illegal practices, then the sports would not be where they are today. If food manufacturers had chosen to make food that they would happily give to their families instead of cutting costs to a maximum, then they too would not be facing the current sc andal. Unfortunately, these events damage not only those concerned, but the wider industries at large.
Sports sponsorship will be under much tighter scrutiny and perhaps some br ands will decide to move to other sports or forms of promotions in the future. Sales of prepared dishes containing beef are significantly down in Europe already and this will result in lower prices for wholesalers and eventually also for the farmers. According to Reuters, a recent poll run by Consumer Intelligence in the UK, showed that more than 65% of respondents said they trusted food labels less as a result of the recent incident, so in fact the wholefood industry has been impacted.
Luckily, not every industry or company has been doing their business without regard for honesty and living up to their customers’ trust in them. Some companies underst and the importance of winning and then keeping this trust. Ford recently issued a booklet about the Top 2013 Trends of importance to them and their number one trend was trust, or as they quoted it “Trust is the new Black”. In their description of it, they mention that “Correlation of trust to br and equity increased by 35% in three years since the (economic) crisis”. If that isn’t a reason to build trust, I don’t know what is!