Very little is fixed, many things are fluid.
The trends our survey identifies show that the consumer is experiencing ongoing change - whether this concerns behavior or brand loyalties, trusted media or shopping habits, market segments or the role of physical stores.
There are urgent implications for businesses in these new trends. An understanding supported by the solid principles of effective marketing will help organizations navigate through this new consumer environment:
- Engage in dialogue with the consumer
Organizations have to go back to basics and get to know their consumers to develop strong and profitable relationships. They must engage in a different type of dialogue in neutral forums governed by different rules. To build their consumer understanding, they must invest in all possible analytics. Government authorities must also learn from this shift: citizens used to the swift and informal communications traffic of social media will not respond well to the remote formality of traditional bureaucracy.
- Make service personal
Equipped with new consumer insights, organizations must align their entire value chain to provide a personalized customer journey: from bespoke product and service variants and flexible delivery, to adaptable payment and communication options and cross-channel recall of customer preferences. Shopping, whether online or face-to-face, must remain a fun and social leisure activity.
- Provide an end-to-end brand experience
Customer experience is the new brand: no part of the consumer journey must betray the marketing promise of the brand. Organizations must deliver a positive experience across every customer touch point. By delivering an all-round positive customer experience, companies can build the strong and loyal brand communities that can protect their products from commoditization and their reputations from tarnishing.
- Deliver consistent multi-channel service
Seamless service across all channels is essential. Consumers demand consistency in pricing, quality and branding across the full service network, whether the components are virtual or bricks and mortar. As organizations develop their online capability, they must be wary of neglecting the face-to-face experience.
- Make consumers business partners
Empowered consumers expect to be able to influence organizations to behave in a way that suits them. Organizations must focus on developing collaborative relationships with consumers and find opportunities for acting in partnerships. Involving customers in creating relevant loyalty programs ensures suppliers can build genuine affinity.
These imperatives offer great challenges – and great opportunities – for business.
Companies that harness the principles of good marketing behind these action points and truly transform their organizations and offerings along customer-centric lines can achieve great competitive advantage: in the relevance of their offering, the end-to-end efficiency of their value chain and the loyalty of their customers.
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