Times are changing. The marketing strategies of the olden days are slowly fading in presence and in practice.
Nowadays, people are least interested in buying products that are marketed through door-to-door sales, newspaper ads, or local radio. Billboards, blimps, and magazines are shrinking in popularity as well. Marketers understand that it’s not enough to put your name out there. Customers are smarter and are more well-read than ever.
In times like these, businesses need to use their best source of information as possible – the consumers.
A Brief Look at Consumer Insights
Studying customer insights and how it can affect a business is often an overlooked strategy in marketing.
If you look up the term, “customer insights” can mean many things. Most refer to it as the tiny motivations that prompt people to choose specific brands over others. While some say that these are a collection of customer data that reveal how they interact with a brand or business. Brand consultant Helen Edwards on the other hand, states that customer insights are “breakthroughs” about your brand or product and how they can improve people’s lives.
Coffee chain Starbucks, is a great example of a brand that can spot customer insights AND use them effectively in their marketing strategies. For instance: they noticed how ordering their coffee usually takes plenty of time, especially during peak seasons. This observation helped them incorporate a Mobile Pay & Order in their app, to let customers order on the go and pick up their cup once in store.
This time-saving response to an insight has helped the coffee giant achieve an 11 percent increase in total revenue in 2013.
Generating shopper insights should be a crucial effort for every business. Sure, analytics and quantitative data may show you which products did better – but they offer NO detailed explanation as to WHY a consumer considered your product over another. Here’s where customer insights would come in. By studying these “moments”, you can understand why your target market act a certain way and what influences them to make purchasing decisions.
Businesses can find customer insights by LISTENING and/or OBSERVING. Do this either on- or offline. If you’re on social media for instance, try reading conversations or discussions about your brand. If you’re in your store, watch how your customers interact with your products. Look for subtle cues like body language and facial expression.
When businesses take customer insights into consideration, they can find loopholes to help them rethink about better strategies and learn more on how to enhance the consumer experience.
Starbucks: More Than Just High-Priced Coffee
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, highly values customer insights. In fact, it is one of his most reiterated wisdom in his book, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. In his book, Schultz shares Starbucks's setbacks, failures, and journey through success.
Schultz was able to achieve success by prioritizing customer concerns. He then communicated these to his staff. Then they strategized on how to connect with people on an emotional and personal level by being genuinely interested in them. By enriching the customer experience, Schultz didn’t just earn customers: he earned loyal advocates and followers.
But how can a small business benefit from consumer insights? And how can they implement research to get honest opinions?
How to Find and Use Customer Insights
Revolutionary customer insights may be rare – but they exist. Businesses simply need to pay attention. Here are several aspects to consider:
Connect Personally. Before you go hunting for consumer insights, the first thing you have to build is trust. This is because most people are not comfortable sharing information about their purchasing decisions. Trust will help you gain honest opinions that will prove useful for your company.
You can earn trust by building a friendly relationship with your consumers. Start by assisting them in their purchase decisions, or by addressing common issues with your brand. People are only as generous if they know they have something to gain from it.
Schultz teaches us that it’s not enough to simply address customer complaints: you need to treat them as real people – not just numbers – and show off your personality. Start building valuable connections by ditching the corporate dialogue in favor of talking to customers in a friendly, approachable language.
Map the Customer’s Journey. Customer insights help businesses identify gaps in their strategy. Create a detailed map of your customers’ buying journey from awareness to advocacy. This should help you pinpoint weak spots in the campaign. During this process, you should gain a better understanding of what motivates your consumers, so you could successfully guide them during the experience.
Identify people’s “pain points”. What do they like or dislike when they interact with your brand? Help front-line departments (such as the sales or marketing team) quickly handle customer concerns, that will hopefully, lead to a revolutionary customer insight.
Personal Immersion. There is no better way to know more about your brand than by becoming the consumer yourself. As they say, we learn more when we do the work ourselves.
So why not become the consumer? Shop around like they do, notice how your brand stands out from others, and try the product yourself. By putting yourself in their shoes, you will also experience the pleasures and daily challenges they face when they interact with your brand.
Aside from these, what are the other ways you can help customers enrich their experience?
- Mobile Apps: these are proving to be beneficial to many small and mid-sized businesses. Apps can serve as direct marketing channels to your customers, as well as a sales and information platform. You can customize features unique to your brand such as prices, booking options, customer support, accounts, forums, news, social proof, and many more.
- Loyalty Cards: A great way to gather data about your consumers is by having a loyalty card program. Aside from providing coupons, discounts, and merchandise as rewards for regularly shopping or signing in your business, loyalty cards contain data that gives you valuable consumer information. This will help you track consumers buying habits.
- Train Your Staff: Invest in targeted training programs. Outstanding training will improve interaction with customers, as well as motivate your employees to provide better customer service. Don’t forget to compensate for excellent employee performance through regular incentives or bonuses.