Buyers are more informed than ever before, thanks to the technology that has democratised information. Often it is the perception, the top-of-mind experiences and feelings that convert a ‘Maybe’ to a ‘Yes’. Imagine buying a car, house, television, mobile phone, washing machine, skin lotion, pen, watch, software or going on a vacation, choosing a restaurant for a meal and so on! We have many choices and we have enough information about each of these choices; we ask for recommendations and put all of these together to shortlist the one we want to pick. What can a brand do to be on the winning side?
Know the customers
In our frenzy to grow and acquire new customers each day, sales and marketing teams keep looking for greener pastures and do not draw enough from the insights of the teams who are selling to the existing customers and servicing them. As a result, the organisation loses an opportunity to penetrate deeper into the cohorts of existing customers. One has to learn more about the cohorts and define them better so that their behaviours, experiences and unmet needs can be better understood. Sony, Apple, Xerox, P&G and many others have been able to deeply engage with their customers and innovate accordingly.
Discovering greener pastures is an important priority for organisations looking to grow and prosper. Hence, this programme must be aligned well with the requirements of the prospective customers. The cost of acquiring customers will continue to go down if the service offerings are designed well and the methods of communicating the value proposition are efficient. To achieve this, we need proactive efforts of understanding our target customers.
One wonders if customers are looking for just one or two things when they buy a product or service. In fact, they are looking for multiple things in any buy that they do, right from the best price to personalisation, flexibility, post-purchase support, esteem and functionality. Can one say which one is more important than the others?
Every organisation has to make multiple wheels to move in sync to make sure that their offerings appeal to the buyer along various dimensions. Their offerings have to be reliable, affordable, flexible, scalable and futuristic. Every leader understands these and finds it extremely hard to translate them into action on the ground.
For example, a buyer needs the product features to be futuristic, scalable, flexible and customisable; accordingly, the pricing should be structured. This is not easy for every organisation to deliver in reality. If we are building an organisation for the future, we have to revamp our existing ways to fit into these expectations of our customers.
Are we talking about more choices?
Google as a search engine captured the market in the early 2000s because of its simplicity. It did not ask us to classify our searches and kept its page amazingly simple. Steve Jobs captured the attention of the world when he launched the iPod saying that we can carry 1000 songs of our choice in our pocket and listen to them any time anywhere. And more such examples exist in various product categories.
Customers are looking for simple interfaces, just enough choices before them so that they feel that they fairly evaluated various choices and picked one based on what they looked for and at the same time, not too many choices which can confuse them and make them anxious if they are evaluating right. We have experienced the agony and anxiety when we go to buy footwear or clothing from a brick-and-mortar store, order food from a long menu card, pour through pages of reviews while choosing a hotel at a vacation destination.
Online sellers are able to customise their store; brands are running loyalty programmes, customised promotions and information campaigns based on the customer profile. With the advent of IoT (internet of things), VR-AR (virtual reality – augmented reality), AI (artificial intelligence), newer methods of software development and infrastructure management, brands have to become more digital in their approach and address the trending needs of customers.