By Fabrice Guérin,
Chairman of the board of Splio + D-AIM
When it comes to purchases, price has become increasingly less important in the decision-making process. Consumers today are looking for so much more: an authentically personalized relationship, innovative additional services and a unique customer experience. Marketing and sales strategies have had to undergo a total transformation.
In the 21st century, shoppers expect brands to win them over with an element of surprise and deeper insights into who they are as individuals. To achieve this, brands must study customer profiles closely to pinpoint their tastes and needs in order to present them with more relevant offers and services. Without this in-depth customer knowledge, businesses will struggle to succeed in a world where expectations of quality in terms of product, services and ethics have skyrocketed.
INNOVATE WITH SERVICES TO BOOST CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
Today’s consumers expect a brand to deliver an enriched experience, an authentically personalized relationship and innovative additional services. To meet these expectations, many retailers have employed marketing and sales strategies based on services that provide true added value. A great example is Leroy Merlin, a major home improvement and gardening retailer. The company has developed a wide range of free online tutorials and courses to help customers with their projects. Additionally, sporting goods retailer Decathlon helps customers stay in shape with their Decathlon Coach app. The recent health crisis has pushed many other retailers to provide innovative services. It has also led to an increase in former habits such as drive-throughs, click and collect and home deliveries.
ENGAGE CUSTOMERS IN THE LIFE OF THE BRAND
One of the latest trends in relationship marketing is co-creation, whereby customers’ opinions are incorporated into the development of a product and/or service at an early stage. Engaging customers at the start of the value chain helps brands establish market acceptance of the product. What’s more, this innovative and interactive approach can generate customer evangelists. Italian clothing and accessories brand Brandy Melville used collective creativity to engage its target audience of young females. By inviting them to participate in design workshops for their new collections, the brand’s teenage co-designers provide a constant feed of fresh social media content.
BUILD CUSTOMER LOYALTY AND GAIN AMBASSADORS
Developing new levers to attract consumers requires brands to invest in more than lowering prices. Yet, this strategy is more rewarding and more profitable in the medium and long term. A customer who recognizes the added value of a brand will ultimately spend more and remain loyal. When it comes to customers, retention is always going to cost less than conversion. In addition, satisfied customers can turn into brand ambassadors who share their experiences with family and friends and on social media. Their opinions are all the more credible because there is no incentive, financial or otherwise.
TAKE A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Besides innovative additional services, social responsibility is an increasingly important demand for today’s consumers. They want to ensure that the products and services they buy are respectful of the environment, human health and animal welfare. An excellent example is the French app Yuka, which scans labels on food and cosmetics and provides a rating in terms of health. With around 15 million users in Europe, Yuka has encouraged brands to rework their products to meet the growing demand for healthy living.
Consumers today also expect brands to be more respectful of their privacy when communicating with them. This aligns with the shift from mass to individualized marketing. Whereas brands once blasted customers with emails to announce a new product, service or special offer, they now create hyper-personalized communications based on individual profiles. Thus, thanks to data analysis and AI solutions, brands can communicate offers that are entirely in line with specific tastes and expectations.
The current health and economic crises have forced brands to take a closer look at the market. They must not only identify and predict customer expectations but also show more empathy and ethical awareness at an individual level. In these trying times, customers need to be understood and pampered!