How to fail in being customer-centric
Being truly consumer-centric benefits all parties in the supply chain so why is it so easy to forget to do this in practice.
So firstly, what is consumer centricity and why is it so important to modern marketing.
Consumer centricity is seeing the business from the point of view of the customer and marketing with sensitivity to the customers, and can also be known as being:
- Market Orientated
- Market Driven
- Customer focussed
- Or finally, seeing the business ‘back to front’ or ‘inside out’
So why is it so easy in a world where so much data is available to help us listen to our consumers needs, wants and desires and deliver better experiences to them, that we often fail as a marketing community to be consumer-centric.
There are a variety of reasons:
Fast paced agency life means agencies are often guilty of just churning out proposal after proposal without giving them the care and attention they need. Every day modern marketing becomes more complex, every meeting you walk into has a different buzzword, acronym or new piece of jargon thrown in for good measure, channel and devices proliferate daily along with technology solutions, since 2011, there have been 6,800 new technology providers enter the market, which equates to roughly 2.5 companies being formed per day, a massive increase of 4,500%.
Short-term marketing tactics are increasingly taking precedence over long-term brand building, and whether it’s a symptom or a cause, the tenure of marketers is also getting shorter, as is the length of agency relationships.
Linked to time or the lack of it for most CMO’s, where the need to deliver immediate results is now part of every high-profile marketing job. Research is often the first thing that gets cut, and the budget gets thrown into pouring more ill-fitting customer prospects in at the top of the funnel. Kirti Singh, Procter & Gamble’s chief analytics and insights officer, discussed this subject of market research at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2018 Data and Measurement Conference stating “Transparency helps ensure that our industry keeps non-working dollars low, so money can be better spent in connecting our consumers and delivering growth. As a by-product of transparency, our consumers are getting annoyed with just the sheer amount of advertising that they’re seeing.”
The view of research needs to change as does the shift back to looking at wider long term KPI’s, research is an investment and allows for better more efficient marketing and with cash being king it’s often difficult to get clients to see the value of research when this money could be spent on acquiring or retaining customers.
As marketers, we often don’t want to know what our customers are saying about our brands as we’re worried about what they’re going to say about the product or service they were sold and what devastating effect may have on brand sentiment or NPS scores.
As marketers, we like to think we know it all and sit in meetings putting ourselves into the consumer mindset and writing marketing plans based on ‘finger in the air’ research.
With arrogance, fear, lack of time or money to do research, we start to believe the decisions that are made in these ‘thought showers’ and you then start to hear, ‘if I was a consumer’, ‘I prefer this’, ‘they wouldn’t buy that’. Making assumptions is dangerous to building plans as our opinions are somewhat worthless as we have so much bias.
We’re also fighting against other dynamics in our organisations, like being product level or having to focus on driving revenue which often overtakes our ability to exercise humility.
Our biggest lesson learned is that we are marketers, not consumers, we left behind the world of the consumer when we took a job in marketing. When you work for an agency or a brand selling our clients products or services, and while we can control the inputs, it’s very difficult as a marketer to see the world from the consumer point of view as we’ll always have a tainted view.
So when asked with questions like, is this price right, does the messaging resonate with the audience, we as marketers need to have a level of humility to be able to say ‘I don’t know’ we need to understand how to connect with our audience to go and find those answers by listening to our consumers.