Since the invention of the internet, our world has transformed at a phenomenal rate, and it is really difficult to keep up with the latest trends, technology and demands from consumers. Customers are more connected, they have more choice and demand more from brands. How do brands keep up and how do they evolve?

What I do know, is that to understand who our today and future customers are is so important to enable brands to survive in such a competitive market.  Brands more than ever need to listen, and when I say listen I don’t mean run data analysis of their behaviour online, I mean really listen. Yes, data has a part to play, but talking with your customers you will understand them so much more and create deeper connections.  

Whilst listening to a marketing week  podcast a while ago,  Gav Thompson (a well known  customer-centric CMO)  talked about his life in the agency world, and how being customer-centric is invaluable.  One example, he covered was the Guinness account, and how he knew that talking directly to customers would provide so much more insight than data alone could.  He went into bars to buy customers a drink which allowed him to ask questions, Gav knew sales were fine during the week but there was a slump at the weekend.  After talking with the Guinness drinkers he understood the frustration was a slow pouring drink at the weekend and customers not wanting to wait. Now they couldn’t do anything about the slow pouring drink but they could turn it to their advantage.  Gav shared this insight with the creatives and they used that negative and turned it into a positive and produced the greatest Guinness commercial ever, the ‘surfer ad’ not only in the hall of fame the campaign had a positive commercial impact too.  This is just one example of knowing your customer improves communication.

 But it is not just about how marketeers understand their customers, this needs to come from the very top.  I have worked with so many marketeers who want to conduct research and understand their customers better, only to be met with budget restrictions, or dare I say it the board don’t want to or even care what their customers think.  Why?  Because it costs money, it’s not the way they want to go, or they aren’t facing any difficulty yet.

 How do we change that mindset?  Take a look over the last few years, we have lost or nearly lost so many great brands such as Jamie Oliver, Homebase and of course more recently Thomas Cook.  

Now there are lots of reasons these brands struggled but all three had one common factor, they didn’t keep up with today’s market, they didn’t listen to the requirements and expectations of their customers and ultimately paid the biggest price.

Our recent blog on future customers  states that Gen Z is expected to represent 40% of consumer spending NEXT YEAR (I am not shouting, I want you to know how close we are). Can we afford not to understand them? Do you know how to connect with them now?  They were born literally with devices in their hand, and therefore so much more connected and expect so much more than a next day delivery service.

Consumers are wanting brands to be accountable, they want them to be ethical and environmentally friendly. They research more online but will talk with their social peers to gain viewpoints. 

They don’t necessarily trust what you say on your website, probably because you are selling the product/service, right? Which means you have to listen to what other conversations are being said online.