Being Customer-Centric in 2020

Emanuele Del Rosso
5 min
February 13, 2020
In this blog post we want to reflect on customer centricity as a key component of successful marketing and sales operations. In 2020 more than ever, customer is king.

Here are 3 quotes for you:

  • "The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company."
  • “We start with the customer and we work backward."
  • "Customer experience is a catalyst of transformation."

These first two statements come from the mouth of Jeff Bezos, and the third from Christine Crandell, President of New Business Strategies.

Customer centricity seems to be the key to success for companies that operate in any market, to the point that the patron of Amazon explains that their offer is a result of having "reverse-engineered" their audience's needs to understand what they really want.

But why so?

The old way of engaging with customers

Let's take one of the biggest markets ever existed, a market in which US citizens will spend, by 2025, around 100 billion dollars per year. The Fast Moving Consumer Goods market.

FMCG products have been around since the early stages of the industrial revolution when mass production started to grow to sustain the rapidly expanding metropolitan areas. This sector then boomed in the post-war era and reached astonishing numbers with the new millennium.

It is then, at the turning of the century, then the shift towards consumers started becoming evident. Indeed, as MCKinsey & Co explain, "the model that fueled industry success - that is, mass distribution - now faces great pressure as consumer behaviors shift and the channel landscape changes."

We are now into a completely new era, in which personalization of customer experience is prevailing, thanks to new technologies and channels, and a totally new approach - the online way - to buying products.

As a result of this, new trends not immediately spotted by the FMCG industry started slowing down its performance:

The way to go: customer first

So what can be done? Consumers have become picky, accustomed to their right to choose between different options, attracted by niche brands, intimate with data and technology, open to competition and, in the end, really spoiled.

The only way is embracing it. But being smart about it.

  1. First of all, FMCG brands need to monitor their market. They need to understand it thoroughly, being able to spot trends and unexplored areas, pools of customers they hadn't noticed before. They'll need to act fast and with precision though, as competition is fierce.

For that, data can be a solution. We wrote about it extensively in our article Trade Marketing Strategies for 2020 and How Data Can Help Nail Them, explaining that AI and big data can open the doors to customers' minds and help companies understand what they really want, and what they will want in the future. In the end, their happiness is the end goal.

  1. After having understood what customers want, how they want it and where, brands can differentiate themselves while fulfilling their needs. How? MediaMonks suggests becoming more human.

Making a "true cultural statement" is more and more important because customer experience happens in the private world of a mobile phone, where feeling "pampered" can prompt purchase. Obviously, this can happen only when a company knows exactly what caring means for its customers, and again we are back to point 1.

  1. Learn from small players. Millennials shy away from big brands and prefer small companies, more true to their mission and near their customers. This is especially evident within the Food section of the FMCG and OOH sectors.

That's because retailers have noticed small brands are appealing for consumers, and therefore they started giving them more space. Small labels rarely go on discount and they generate more margin for the retailer.

  1. Get digital, because the real game is played there. A recent article by Nielsen explains that "in 2016, around 23% of consumers purchased food and beverages online. Now numbers say that as many as 70%-80% of food shoppers will buy online in the next five to seven years.

But how much is your industry prepared to "get digital"? Nielsen's research shows that, as much as many business professionals know a strong online presence helps to engage with their audience, not everyone is completely ready for it.

And finally, be prepared for yet another revolution and to rethink everything we just said. Things will keep shifting at an ever-higher rate, following always-new technical advancements.  Wait and see is not an option any more.

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