Marketing has always been about understanding your customer. But what makes customer-centricity different is the way in which you develop a strategy that embraces one-on-one individuality. Instead of the focus being on the product, the strategy is realigned to how that product satisfies customer needs, uses and value. In other words, this approach puts the onus on what makes the customer unique.
Big Data Analysis
Customer-centricity begins with analysing the target audience. It isn’t an easy task to capture and understand “big data” but it is essential. With a focus on transactions, service or product use, web behaviour and the collation of user-generated content such as product reviews, social media posts and blogs, businesses can begin to inform their strategy with a focus on customer engagement.
This is only possible when information garnered through big data analysis gives us clues to factors such as a customer’s spending habits, their reaction to promotional pricing, loyalty to product over brand, and other such factors. Toyota has, for example, used image analysis to evaluate driver head positions to enhance comfort and safety. Similarly, by tracking a user’s engagement with a brand’s website, e-commerce retailers can take these behaviours and predict the type of content that can increase conversion rates.
Products can be specifically tailored to capture individual customer needs. For example, brands like Huawei provide consumers with the opportunity to not only choose from a variety of smartphones developed to enhance certain types of use. The Mate 20 Pro targeted business professionals but also gave them the option to individualise the product through a choice of colours and styles. In a very competitive marketplace, where technical specification and price are closely matched between brands, Huawei engages with its customers to offer a product that is more uniquely built around them.
The successful implementation of this strategy is seen in the iGaming market as well, as platforms for online casino games differentiate familiar gameplay through the use of three, four or five reels in video slots, and distinguish games around popular styles and themes such as the DC Comics-inspired Wonder Woman Bullets & Bracelets. This captures both loyalty, by creating more meaningful connections with the user, and attractive brand agility that can flex to market conditions to provide a product that is relevant and personalised.
Experience Feeds Satisfaction
As Professor Ted Levitt says, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” Product sales are just part of the equation. Tailoring marketing methods with customer-centricity in mind means being able to empathise with the end-user. Business should draw upon an understanding of niche and analysis of the market with an emphasis on consumer behaviour to stand out from the crowd with a product that surpasses generic offers.
For example, McDonald’s has evolved the experience of buying its food rather than necessarily changing the product. Tiffani Bova, author of Growth IQ, said this has manifested itself in the brand’s digital revolution – free wi-fi in store, self-service kiosks, mobile apps, and delivery services. Bova says this has been particularly important in attracting millennials and, as a result, sales have increased.
Customer expectations have evolved, loyalty is tested more than ever before, and consumers are savvier, better informed and willing to shop around to discover unique experiences that engender trust with a brand. Developing a successful marketing approach is therefore underpinned by an ability, in the words of Justyna Polaczyk, to “love your customers”.
As Daniel Kahneman discusses in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, a positive customer experience is down to your understanding of how your product makes them feel. “We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think,” he says. Empathy is therefore fundamental to delivering a customer experience that reinforces reputation and brand loyalty.
Not just about building better relationships, customer-centricity can help deliver a longer-lasting competitive advantage. Yes, there are a number of ways businesses can tailor their offer to distinguish themselves with an increased focus on the customer. However, perhaps the most important is a willingness to move away from thinking from a sales perspective and to look at products and service from a customer’s point of view.