CUSTOMERS ARE CALLING THE SHOTS
‘Years ago, I sat in on a sales presentation. The salesperson shared three options a client might expect when doing business with his company. The options were high quality, quick service and low price. He told the customer, “You get to choose two of the three.”‘ BARE shares an article by Shep Hyken for Forbes on consumer demand trends.
‘Well, a lot has changed since then. In both the B2B and B2C markets, it is now expected that the customer gets all three, and in some cases, additional options as well. That brings us to a new Forrester research report, “Vast, Fast and Relentless: Consumer Buying Enters a New Era” by Sucharita Kodali, Anjali Lai, Joe Stanhope and David Truog. While the report is focused on consumers and B2C organizations, a lot of the findings can also apply to the B2B world. The general concepts are valid for almost any business in any industry.
Here is the bottom line: customers expect more than they ever have before from the places they do business with. They don’t want to choose two out of three. They demand all three—and more. The only area in which they may be more flexible is price, as the value they receive can help make price less relevant. Customers want a fair price—not necessarily the lowest—but demand value in the experience, which includes convenience and service. And, it needs to be a given that the product will meet the quality expectations.
The Forrester report cited four trends that the B2C company must understand to meet consumer demands over the next decade. Here they are, followed by my commentary:
1. MARKETPLACES WILL LOSE MARKET SHARE TO BRANDS.
We must look at how major brands are changing their model. In the past, the retail industry focused on the retailer-to-consumer model as the traditional way to do business. There were some outliers that found it more effective to bypass the retailer and go directly to the consumer. Now, major brands are doing the same thing. For example, Nike has pulled products from certain retailers to gain control of how its products are being positioned and sold to customers.
2. EXPERIENCE, NOT MARKETING, WILL DRIVE DEMAND.
Here’s an idea: try it and if you like it, buy it. I stopped in a bakery recently to buy some cookies. The owner of the bakery asked if I wanted to try a caramel butter bar. Why not? I did, and ended up adding two of those delicious treats to my order. The same is happening in general retail. Customers want to try the product before they buy it. Some companies let their customers experiment with—and in the process, experience—their products. There are industries and categories where it is very inexpensive to cover the cost of the “trial.” For some others, it could take the form of a guarantee with easy returns: “If you don’t like it, send it back!”
3. VALUES, SPECIFICALLY PRIVACY, WILL INFLUENCE PURCHASE DECISIONS.
Privacy is a hot topic. The way we do online business has been changed forever due to confidentiality and privacy issues. There’s an old saying: People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. That last word, trust, is the tough one, but once you attain it, you are in a position to go far with your customers. To build a deeper relationship with your customers, there must be transparency and they must trust you. If you need information from them, even something as simple as an email address or mobile phone number, your value proposition must be compelling enough to make them comfortable enough to share it.
4. TRADITIONAL BUSINESS MODELS WILL BECOME EXTINCT.
The way you’ve always done it may not be good enough. For an established brand to survive and thrive, it must be looking at what customers expect. Those expectations are being influenced by a new breed of company. Startups and nimble tech companies are creating a higher expectation related to innovation and how fast a company can move.
These trends start to give you an understanding about what the modern customer expects. As always, they want value in the form of a good deal, which doesn’t always mean price. Convenience is more important than ever. Being easier to do business with can separate a company from its competition. Customers want their favorite brands and businesses to be innovative and steeped in values that align with theirs.
When you ask customers, they’ll tell you this. They are calling the shots, and you can’t ignore it. Listen closely and act accordingly.’
Read the original article in full here.
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Disclaimer of endorsement: Any reference obtained from this article to a specific business, product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by BARE International of the business, product, process, or service, or its producer or provider.
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