Customer Centricity as a Competitive Advantage

by Grant Griebenow
December 18, 2019

In order to stay relevant in 2020, brands must be creative when thinking about new and different ways to break through and draw people into the experiences they create. There are two reasons why this is especially important right now:

  1. Competition: We continue to witness small, focused startups disrupt their competition in healthcare, financial services, and retail. They’ve become more acutely aware of consumer needs, and they are building direct-to-consumer experiences in the spirit of removing friction.
  2. Consumer ad fatigue: At the same time, people are consuming more media than ever. This creates an increasingly competitive environment for people’s attention and dollars.


There are several ways brands are doing this today. One example is removing the barrier of cost and offering a product or service free for a period of time. In fact, ‘free trial or tiering’ is the top reason cited by consumers (42%) for trying a new service. Spotify is a great example, offering users a free ad-supported version of their music-streaming service. 60% of Spotify’s premium subscribers were acquired through their free model, drastically reducing their expense of customer acquisition (Meeker). 

Another reason consumers try new products is a recommendation from someone they trust. In fact, according to eMarketer, 86% of millennials trust recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues when shopping. We’re experiencing this with our client StitchFix, the popular subscription styling service. They have identified the power that comes with a trusted human interaction and have invested in “listening, empathy, and delivering what the client wants” with their stylists. As Mary Meeker indicates on her Internet Trends Report, rather than focusing exclusively on selling the latest styles or the highest margins, Stitch Fix focuses on the needs of their specific customer. These tactics have led to a sharp increase in active clients, reaching ~3M earlier this year.

As brands continue to evolve how they think about engagement and experiment with new tactics, measurement plans should follow suit. Monitoring a standard KPI set (e.g., traditional ROAS) against new tactics can result in abandoning high performing strategies or, worse, allowing low performing strategies to continue to flounder in the market.

To stay relevant, firms need to better understand their customers and create measurable strategies that align to the customer journey. Marketers need to start looking at more long-term metrics (e.g., LTV) for different customer groups. Focus on the right customer, at the right stage, with the right tactics, KPIs and measurement strategies. Successful digital organizations need to understand and consider the collective effect of all touchpoints with their customers – marketing, merchandising, promotions, creative, site and mobile experience. Leveraging Enterprise Marketing Return will enable more visibility into the efficacy of marketing investments and clarity as to where to put the next dollar.

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