As companies start to define their marketing strategies for 2017, the change we had in the marketing paradigm in terms of “listening to the customer” is quite important to be analyzed.
Philip Kotler in his last edition of the best-selling book “Marketing Management” talks about a new concept – the so-called “need for self-enhancement”. According to the Marketing guru, everyone is interested in improving their lives… consumers are constantly focused on personal and financial goals and do consider how to accomplish more in their lives.
Companies that want to become successful in their business should work to understand the customer so intimately that they can even anticipate what they want, where they want it and how they want it.
We are living in the era of innovation and rapid change. Companies want to co-create with their customers new products and services (Kotler, 2016).
The most important thing for organizations today is to stay customer-focused. A sense of continuous uplifting in terms of customer satisfaction is perceived as a key factor in achieving long-term success.
Two months ago I attended a very interesting lecture at the Faculty of Political, Economic and Social Sciences in Milan. Mr. Iabichino, Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy & Mather, taught us students a very interesting concept: companies today must “listen to” the customer and ask for their support and cooperation in terms of possibility to communicate with the customer and get feedback from him or her.
We completely lost the so-called “one-to-many paradigm” that characterized the communication process of 1950s. Organizations, according to Iabichino, should be “allowed” by customers to communicate with them.
Today it’s time to get to know customers better and take the time to do deep research – talk with them, sit with them and share their experiences.
One of the best organizations in terms of marketing innovation and co-creation of new products for their customers is Starbucks.
Starbucks is constantly incorporating customer feedback to create new products to satisfy demand and capitalize on new opportunities. For example, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Salted Caramel Mochas are customer-inspired drinks based on customer feedback and are seasonal in nature.
The seasonality of these products creates a long-term buzz of its own, generated by social sharing and word-of-mouth from the customers themselves. This process of co-creation with the customers of new products generated a continuous growth over the past four years of 12%.
Another very popular company which understands customer experience in a very positive way is Disney. Organizations of all sizes, big or small, can today collect and use personal data and optimize each guest’s experience further. Collecting personal data in order to optimize each guest’s experience contributed to Disney’s revenue growth of 7,5% on average the past four years.
The basic activity that every company should do at its early age should be to define with clarity what is the real personality that it wants to show in the long-term to their customers. It’s the company’s personality that comes across in every interaction with the customer. Talking directly to the customers is a great activity which can improve the overall perception of the company for customers. Major corporations usually take time to talk to customers in a personalized and meaningful way which can make a difference in their lives and creates an emotional connection.
The positive communication flow that both the company and the customers can experience will translate in a real perception of fulfillment and satisfaction on the customer’s side. Customers will thank the company for it and they will tell their friends about it (positive word-of-mouth).
2017 will be the year of “emotional connections” that will inspire consumers and provide an uplift in sales. Being consistent and being consumer-focused and consumer-centric are the main steps for any kind of organization in order to become excellent at satisfying their customers.