By Ron Lunde / March 2018Insights
2018—we are now at the tipping point for brand, retailer and customer relationships. Technology changes foreshadow a need for a dramatic shift in business logic and practices. Customer satisfaction demands both product and communication personalization. For brands and retailers, the lens of a consumer experience (CX) now focuses the offering.
It’s the Customer … Stupid!
The writing on the wall— for both retailers and brands says … simply … ‘the customer’s system of buying is replacing your system for selling.’ Gene Hoffman, then president of Super Valu, wrote a mission statement some 42 years ago that defined the corporate objective and is applicable even today, ‘We shall serve our customers better than anyone else can serve them!’ Every proposal put forward had to contain an explanation, a proof … of how that proposal would serve the customers better than anyone else could serve them.
What’s different today? Dr. Don E. Schultz, Northwestern University Professor and a founding father of the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) concept recently stated, “Technology is fundamentally changing all forms of marketing and marketing communication, not just the applications but the tools, structures and focus as well”. The ‘new’ technological infrastructure is still in its early stages of development. However, it is already transforming customer, brand and retailer behavior. Two examples: In the soon to arrive 5G world a 2-hour long movie downloads to a mobile device in 3.6 seconds. Therefore, personalized search and information is near instantaneous. Another technology is also emerging with similarly broad effects. It revolves around the Internet of Things (IoT), made up of networks of human and technological activity embedded with sensors, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Therefore, brands and retailers will no longer compete just through their brands and physical stores. Instead, combining technologies into an inclusive platform, they will compete for customer attention through digital linkages—a technological infrastructure among independent / interdependent enterprises, aligned to specific customers via interoperable technologies and targeted creative communication efforts. Amazon is just the disruptive start point.
Being Smart about Megatrends
A megatrend might be defined as a large social, economic, political, environmental, or technological change highly likely to have a major impact across a wide range of areas. The oncoming wave of digital disruption encompasses an unprecedented breadth and scale and is taking place on a global scale. It is a megatrend! During the next few years, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, logistics, robotics, online interface design, data insights and data analytics will advance and amplify one another’s impact. Products and processes will routinely learn from their surroundings; markets will converge and consolidate to an unprecedented extent.
How do you direct yourself, your company and your team toward recognizing the most relevant and critical megatrends? Awareness and Action:
- Global trends in technology, global economics, demographics, psychographics, and customer insights.
- Changes in your industry including technology, pricing models, logistics, consolidation/concentration.
- Sense and Respond to your customers. Develop Customer Insight and Predictive Analytics tools and skill sets. Brands can no longer sell what they make. Brands must make what they can sell. Retailers can no longer sell what they buy. They must buy what they can sell. Create and use a Customer Experience metric.
- Doubt Everything! Ask every day … ‘What business are we in? What business should we be in? When do we have to change? What do we have to change? What are the metrics that define success? How does this serve our customers better than anyone else can?’
Everyday … remember …‘the customer’s system of buying is replacing your system for selling.
Contributed by Ron Lunde, Senior Marketing and Advertising Executive & Market Strategy Consultant
Ron held senior management positions in grocery retailing including Supervalu, Grand Union and Price Chopper. He was also a Sr. VP. at the Leo Burnett Advertising agency. Ron is credited with introducing Space and Category Management systems to the industry as well as working with the Price Chopper team to introduce and deploy the first data driven frequent shopper program in the US. He was also a consultant to the Financial Accounting Standards Board in developing the Issues that govern the accounting requirements for all trade promotion and marketing expenditures. Lunde currently serves as a Market Strategy consultant to retailers and CPG brands.