It’s what separates great marketers, entrepreneurs and business leaders apart from mediocrity.
Curious business minds are centred on what their customers really want, what they feel, and what the quality of their experience is really like. Warts and all.
They want to know because in today’s world of hyper-competitive markets, over-supply, easy substitution, and constant disruption, you have to be on your game and true to what shoppers want if you’re going to win.
Customer insights are the key to understanding and connecting with shoppers and identifying business development opportunities. They provide the clues to improve.
Insights are a form of commercial empathy. They come from being able to see, understand and experience the world through the eyes of the customer. They tell you what works, what doesn’t, and what is missing.
Insights come from the real story, straight from customers, listened to, observed, shared aspirations, expectations and experiences.
The problem is….
Being ‘customer-centred’ is easy to say, and is the right concept in today’s marketing climate, but it can be hard to achieve.
Time poverty is a modern scourge that affects us all. We’re crushed with emails, high-performance expectations and the pressure of trying to follow market trends that are constantly evolving and shifting. It can seem like a luxury to take the time to stop and listen to customers when there are deadlines looming.
This is commonly exacerbated when capacity and resources are limited resources. It is easy for the must-do to over-shadow the should-do.
Some company cultures focus more on making products efficiently without spending time to enquire about who would like what. This operating style of ‘ready, fire, aim’ is not uncommon and it produces a clear irony in the priority of efficiency over effectiveness.
Research can certainly help provide insights when done well, but all too often it can feel like fast food: promising a lot, but unsatisfying.
The pearls of insight can be lost by dumbing things down, taking too superficial a glance at consumer behaviour, or relying too much on artificial research environments and abstract techniques that filter you out from customers’ reality and leave you wondering what to do next.
At the other extreme, it is very common to hear marketers struggle these days with trying to manage a flood of data that overwhelms There is sometimes too much measurement and not enough meaning.
There are also some who trade curiosity and open-mindedness with their own over-confidence. Confirmation bias in marketing is all too common, where brands, products and campaigns are skewed in the direction of the marketer’s worldview without considering the customer and what they want to buy.
Something new out of the box
Energi has created a new way for clients to truly appreciate the experience of their customers.
‘Shop with Me’ lets you spend time with your customers and to learn how to influence them.
It provides a shared journey of understanding that can play out in a number of important ways:
- Profiling – You can get to know your customers, how they shop and what influences their attitudes and behaviour.
- Contextual environment – You can get to appreciate how they live, and how your product fits into their household (or not).
- Let’s go shopping – You can go shopping with them to experience the marketplace, your category and how well your product stacks up against alternatives from their perspective. This can be in both brick and mortar and online stores.
- Back home – Go home with them to see what they do with your products (and competitors), how they use them, and how satisfying they are.
- Do they like what you have to offer? – Get their impressions of the complete experience you provide – channel, packaging, communication, online, e-commerce, product, pricing…
- What’s their advice? – Listen to what satisfies them, what doesn’t and what they think you could be doing better, and what needs they have that go unmet.
Using Shop With Me you can invite your customers into your marketing process to strengthen their experience in many different ways, at different stages, and for different uses.
- It helps you simply and objectively assess the reality of the experience your customers have of your products, compared to competitors.
- It is ideally suited as a platform for new product co-creation.
- Shop With Me is excellent for user experience testing of websites, apps and other experiences such as new store concepts and services.
- Customer journey mapping becomes a much more 1st-hand, documented and guided experience.
- It is a great way to do ethnographic work, observing how people use your products in their natural environment.
- Communication planning and concept testing can benefit from an iterative process of conversations, concept creation, testing and refinement.
- The powerful profiling tools in Shop With Me are perfect for developing segmentation frameworks.
Designed to fit like a glove
At its heart Shop With Me is a very clever online community bought together for the project at hand. Each project is customised, scoped and scaled to suit needs and budget.
There is a high degree of flexibility with the types of people that can take part in a Shop With Me project. This can include different types of customers from grocery shoppers, to insurance buyers, to car buyers, to property investors, to business-to-business trade partners. We can even run studies with internal stakeholders, staff and your wider community as required.
It is possible to include customers from any part of the country, or wider international markets in multiple languages simultaneously if required.
The duration of a project can be anything from a few days, to a few weeks, to always on; depending on how much time you want to spend with your customers.
The way you can interact with customers and gather content is incredibly dynamic. Single, or group conversations, guided shopping trips and home tours, threaded discussion forums, written responses and polls, video and pictures are all available.
How curious are you?
The level of engagement that Shop With Me allows clients is highly flexible.
At the shy end of the scale, you can stay hands-off and just see the results as they appear. For those who would like to be more involved, you can take an active role in getting to know customers personally and get your hands on Shop With Me’s powerful analysis tools.
Shop With Me invites you to come out from behind the focus group mirror, and cross the research gap to spend time with your customers directly. You can bring them into your marketing and business development processes. You can learn from them. You can use the insights they share with you to catch customer attention, improve their experience, earn their loyalty and become a brand worth sharing.
Curious? See what you can discover by shopping with your customers.
If you would like to know more about how Shop With Me can help you please contact Lew.email@example.com
Article as seen in FMCG Business: September 2020