Al Ries writes “what wins in marketing today? The conventional wisdom is “customer centricity.” As one pundit put it, “Connect with customers based on their behavior or where they are in their purchase or life cycle.” But he feels this is wrong when in fact HE is wrong.
Mr Ries makes a living by preaching to marketers about marketing. While some of his thoughts are OK most are as dated as his books.
I believe that consumers have all the power today. They are turning off marketers’ messages and deserting brands that don’t pay attention to their needs. On top of that a recent study of the woman’s shopping habits indicated that price is more of the deciding factor in brand selection.
Even iconic brands like Starbucks re subject to consumer push back when they change their loyalty program or are cited for not paying taxes in England. The rule is that if you ignore consumers you do so at your own risk. Today, providing outstanding customer service is not an option; consumers expect it. They want to ensure that brands value them and their hard earned dollars.
Here is a perfect example of two brands going in opposite directions. I recently had the opportunity to purchase a new laptop and decided that I had enough of Apple’s high prices and OS issues. I purchased a Dell XPS 13 from the Microsoft store and the experience was excellent. Any PC purchased at the Microsoft store comes without bloatware and it’s easy to return any product via click n ship.
On the other side is Apple. Over the last two weeks big player investors have been dumping Apple stock big time because the decline in iPhone sales. Over the last year Apple has executed a line extension strategy that has failed. The new MacBooks are pricey and under perform when compared to new Windows machines. Apple has not really updated their desktop OS for a long time. The current releases are nothing more than enhancements while people complain about issues with new releases. Apple’s doesn’t seem to care as their customer service is really not customer centric. They have always acted like they are king of the hill, driven by superior products but that may be backfiring.
Is this is the end of Apple? Hardly, but it clearly shows that despite who you are not being customer centric can lead to a loss of brand equity.
Putting customers first is never a bad strategy in an era where more and more consumers are talking to one another. Brands need to make that part of their marketing..no exceptions.