Are you Customer-focused or Customer-centric?

6th March 2015

" Putting customers before the strategy" has taken a new dimension in this age of customization. Brands everywhere are doubling down on the way they set up and market to customer life cycles and many marketers are pondering and looking backwards as they are planning to place the customer ahead of the creation of new experiences and initiatives. The focus to put customers at the head of a marketing strategy is a good start, but what does it really mean for a brand to have a customer focus? How can you differentiate a customer-focused marketing strategy from a traditional customer-centric marketing? A loyalty-driving marketing strategy can be created but this often leads to confusion between customer-focused marketing and customer-centric marketing and can be an impediment as they might sound similar, but the concepts and strategy behind each is quite different. Let us take a deeper look.

Customer-focused vs. Customer-centric

Customer-focused marketing is defined as offering customers a consistently great and relevant experience across all touch points (Dr. Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity). This might seem like a marketing no-brainer, but keeping the customer in the constant spotlight is no easy feat. The first time a potential customer discovers your brand is when they start interacting with you and you need to deliver an experience that should be easy, effective and pleasing. On the other hand, customer-centric marketing is defined as looking at a customer’s lifetime value and focusing your marketing efforts on the high-value customer segment in order to drive profits (Dr. Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity). Basically, customer-centric marketing puts the customer as the cynosure of a marketing strategy which promises as much return as possible. Simply put, customer-focused marketing means asking yourself, “What more can I give to my customers?†and customer-centric marketing means asking yourself, “What more can we get out of them?†When customers experience your brand, they will always ask the question, “What’s in it for me?†before they purchase or engage. Customer-focused marketing helps make the answer(s) to this question obvious as it helps brands offer a reciprocally loyal experience. Although both marketing strategies are applicable as well as indispensable, this also leads to the fact that you have to yield order to get to build a reciprocal relationship between your customers.

Customer Focus leads to Loyalty

Both customer-focused and customer-centric marketing are beneficial, but it is also important to remember that customer-centric marketing only places priority on a brand’s highest valued customer cohort. One particular customer group receiving your constant attention leaves a large portion of your customers untapped and unmarketed to, which means you are losing out a huge opportunity to build loyalty. It is unwise to ignore the majority and therefore, you need to chalk out plans to move customers into your high-value cohort. High-value customers do not typically start out as high-value customers and it is important to nurture each group in your customer lifecycle equally to yield maximum results in fostering loyalty. In order to build lasting customer loyalty, most companies should always go for a balance of both customer focus and customer centricity within their marketing strategies. Customer-focused marketing is all about delivering a personalized, relevant experience to every customer, which is the first step toward fostering loyalty. However, building loyalty also calls for putting high-value customers at the center of product creation. Let u take a look at an example of company who does this well.

Nike's Customer Approach

Nike has been successfully implementing a customer-centric and customer-focused marketing strategy. Not only has Nike adopted a customer-focused approach to their marketing and loyalty building, but they have put the customer at the center of their product creation. With Nike, you get everything you need to start training, from workout gear to water bottles to equipment and more. Once you have purchased your gear, you can engage with the brand on a variety of personal levels, from apps to track your fitness progress to engaging with the brand through their various online channels. Nike always puts you at the heart of everything, whatever your level of competitive fitness. What Nike has been able to accomplish through their integrated marketing strategy is making every customer feel special as their marketing efforts revolve around the customers and they have accomplished to focus on each customer with priority being given on their individual needs. Nike is a fantastic example of customer-focused marketing done right.

To Sum Up Whether your brand currently places customers at the center of your marketing efforts or focuses on giving them a relevant experience across all touch points, one thing is for sure: you always need to take into account the customers’ best interests, as this is the perfect way to build a reciprocal, long-lasting loyal relationship. Creating a nice mix of customer focus and customer centricity throughout your marketing efforts is bound to yield the best results for both your brand and its customers. Which category does your brand currently belong to? Have you been able to close the gap by implementing both strategies? Share your views in the comments below.

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