Honestly, would you believe any entrepreneurs who boasted: "We know our customers better than ever because of digitisation! We have a huge database that reveals their wishes. We fulfil these immediately and make our customers happy. Then they reward us with their purchasing power and strong loyalty."
Sounds good, right? But few could claim such things.
Most are experiencing the opposite: decreasing loyalty from "ad-phobic" customers. In Germany, for example, 44 per cent of all manufacturers’ brands are losing more than 30 per cent of their regular customers per year – and the figure is increasing, as we found out in a study with GfK.
What’s going wrong? Global studies tell us consumers are disappointed. In the US, Accenture found that 84 per cent of people are frustrated that companies do not deliver what they promise. In Germany, only 30 per cent trust brands and their messages.
Instead of the hoped-for closeness to consumers, the industry is experiencing estrangement. It is as if digitisation helped the industry lose sight of – instead of getting to know – consumers. This is a catastrophic development. One thing is clear: familiar methods will not help – not trusty advertising power nor wily technical finesse.
We need a fresh start. The product is no longer the starting point for marketing activity; it’s consumers’ life phases. If it is to inspire, marketing of the future has to create worlds of experience in which engrossing customer experiences ensure long-lasting customer relationships. Airlines sell travel events, not tickets. Car-makers offer transport experiences. The product is only part of a larger picture.
For marketing, this change means the following (and more):
A shift to micro-segmentation and personalisation
Media planning with rough-edged categories such as "14- to 49-year-olds" can no longer achieve much. The focus won’t be on target groups, socio-geographic data and ranges but the life stages, needs and experiences of each individual.
A shift from channel perspective to customer journey accompaniment
Nowadays, consumers use more channels, contact points and marketing resources for their purchases than ever. The customer journey is now much more complex than even ten years ago. Online or offline? It doesn’t matter – any mixture is OK. Studies show that few companies have concerned themselves with the customer journeys of their customers.
From the advertising message to relevant content
Exaggerated advertising pro-mises no longer match purchasing behaviour because consumers believe nothing without checking. Up to 90 per cent of product research is made before visiting a store. Companies need to develop ideas on how they can support potential customers at an early stage with information and persuasive arguments.
A move from self-serving data analysis towards the use of media for customer satisfaction
In the future, it won’t be about hoarding data for advertising purposes. Instead, companies should consider how they can use the information to shape their business model, improve their products and, ultimately, make their customers happy. That is the real power of big data. Its intelligent use can be absolutely decisive.
Marketing can only achieve this fresh, stronger position if it drops outdated mechanisms and tactics, and has the courage to make a fresh start. Consumers will be grateful.
Our task is to go along with this change; sometimes to push it. We agencies need to rethink our own services and processes, and constantly optimise them as we strive to be perfect consultants for our customers in these difficult but exciting times.
Declaration of independenceWhat independence gives us Speed, flexibility, soul.
The most important thing I have learned in the past year Change is the only constant parameter these days.
The most cutting-edge tech we’re using Core, our big data project.
At a glanceFounded 1970
Principals Florian Haller, group chief executive; Ronald Focken, group managing director; Florian Freiherr von Hornstein, group managing director; Dr Peter Haller, group managing director; Alexander Schill, group managing director and chief creative officer; Markus Noder, managing director, international
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