Everyone speaks of being Customer centric and I am sure you have been reading about it for years. Different names are used for it: Relationship marketing, One-on-One marketing or Customer marketing! The essence of it is often lost in the mad rush that exists in a growing market.
Increasingly India is becoming a Service economy, but our mindset is still manufacturing. We have over 600 million customers who are on some customer database either of a Telco, Bank, Retailer or Travel company. These customers are “addressable media” because we know them by name and understand their behavior patterns. Retailers by the nature of their business have an even more “intimate connect” with their customers. Customers tend to become “store loyal” over a period of time and they hugely value a differentiated treatment at the retail point.
It is far easier to market a “product” which a consumer can hold vs. a “service” which is by nature so fragmented. There is also an increasing trend towards “service-isation” of products. A washing machine is more than a product, its servicing needs are a “service offering”. You could imagine a brand like “Coke” offering “dating” services.
As the Indian economy moves increasingly towards services, consumers move from Brands to Services to Experiences. Coffee costs are low at the wholesale market and we sell it as an “experience” at BARISTA at over Rs. 50 per cup.
A silent revolution is on in the minds of urban consumers in India. And the revolution is about a change in expectation about how brands “build relationships” with customers. The question is, are marketers who have been used to “building brands” able to fathom the changes that “building relationships” demand.
To summarize, getting past purely doing lip service to ROI led marketing needs the following pillars to be in place:
1. Marketing must have a significant voice in driving the “customer” agenda and setting the pace for CRM.
2. The organization must have a compelling “evidence” based culture which persuades marketing to look at customer behavior before and after every marketing campaign. This forces the marketer to look at “return on customer” along with other metrics like “return per square foot” or “Return on inventory”.
3. Marketing must be sufficiently automated, using technology to do this at scale. But the automation can vary right from an excel sheet to expensive analytical and marketing automation technology. Companies should take the call of level of technology investment very carefully and it should match their appetite to do “intensive change management”.
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