Close
Close

Want to Market Better? Think Like a Consumer

Image via Newton Free Library on Flickr

Image via Newton Free Library on Flickr

This is a guest contribution from Moazzam Kamran.

Consumer centricity is a hot topic in marketing circles. Organizations across the globe are trying to “get in touch” with the consumer through multiple methodologies. We employ consumer audits, focus groups, in-house visits, in-depth interviews, and various other techniques to try and understand the consumer’s mind. But in doing all of that, we as organizations are dehumanizing ourselves. We focus so much on getting to know the customer that we slowly and surely distance ourselves away from him.

So where does this all come from? 

The problem actually lies with people being risk-averse. Why I say people and not marketers or organizations is again to humanize the problem. The issue is the word “failure”: we as humans have been taught that failure is the ultimate sin. This indoctrination has led to us becoming risk averse as individuals, which is very unhealthy. Think of any great mind – be it Edison, Ford, Jobs – they all embraced their failures and learned from them.

But how does failure relate to the consumer?

It is simple: when you are fearful of failure, you tend to anticipate it as well. Like a person drowning, we will grab at sticks. We will surround ourselves with insight now for the sake of knowledge but as a fall back option, blame it all on bad consumer insight. Soon research becomes a monotonous ritual that we do just for the sake of paperwork, our own belief for the product is replaced by an overwhelming urge to stick to routine and do as we are told.

How do we fix it?

Over the years, I have worked with phenomenal people on exceptional brands. My CEOs were insatiable people who exhibited a thirst for knowledge and always wanted to learn. That kept me on my toes. I would pore though books, articles, case studies, regardless of FMCG, appliances or technology background, it was all exposure for me. That gave me enough insight to understand that when you do the same thing over and over again you get stuck in a rut, and that’s the worst place to be for a brand.

Another thing I learned is to not be a slave to focus groups. Letting the customer guide your every move is a fool’s strategy. As Steve Jobs said: “customers don’t know what they want until we have shown them”.  

Consumer empathy = insight + intuition 

Consumer research does work but what is missing is realizing that there is an equation. Replacing consumer centricity with consumer empathy does not mean that you are removing the consumer from the mix; it means you are going one step deeper. Your consumer centricity is your consumer insight now.

By all means any organization or marketer should have access to their consumer on formal forums; but he or she should also be able to engage them through informal forums as well.

When was the last time any of us actually talked to the consumer, not via a requirement or a guided interview, but just genuinely talked to them? You will be surprised by how willing they are to talk, how in-depth they would like to go. The digital age has made this even easier; we now have multiple consumer and technology blogs where people discuss our brands on a daily basis. It is these online forums where you can really connect with the consumer share your thoughts with them and ask them truly; if they liked the recent Coke commercial, if they liked the new Dairy Milk and if the new Samsung appealed to them.

Now comes consumer intuition

As marketers we also have to realize that there are certain areas where our belief in the product allows us to take decisions regarding its outcome. As marketers, we need to communicate our brand intuition clearly. We need to balance the equation, build products that we would love to sell to our consumers.

Organizations also need to learn to tolerate failure, build a culture of experimentation. Nourish their people by providing them opportunities to learn from the consumer.

Consumer centricity isn’t dead

I read somewhere that consumer centricity is dead. That is not true; consumer centricity is still there and an active part of the marketing and organizational process. Its importance cannot be denied.

Once we get rid of this constant fear of failure we move towards greater consumer centricity; we also realize that our own opinions are important. They matter because they come from our intuition which is a combination of our years spent with the consumer and our love for our brand.

So to all those people who are part of the marketing process; let’s build dreams, bring people new and innovative products and technologies, shape lives. Honestly it’s all we ever talk about.

Moazzam Kamran is a brand professional with a leading ISP and Cloud service provider, and a ‘Marchitect (Marketing Architect)’ who has provided consultation to local and international brands on brand building & development. You can get in touch with him on Google+ or  LinkedIn.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Rajat Sharma says:

    Market research is the main thing a person should take care while starting any business and blog and sir this blog makes clear that PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY WANT….we have to tell them what they want and earn from them……………

    • Moazzam Kamran says:

      Agreed. Consumer Empathy is key to Consumer Centricity.

    • Ramsay says:

      I think customers do know what they want, what we have to figure out is what it is that they want from their perspective.

      It’s figuring out the problem, creating a sense of urgency and then giving the solution

  2. I like how you Humanize things to make it clearer, nice article.

  3. Kalen says:

    Great points. Too many people get this wrong from the very start, all the way to the beginning of the product generation stage. I know too many entrepreneurs that tried developing products that potential customers later told them they had no use for. Understanding the needs of your customers is the single most important part of running a business and one of the biggest reasons that so many fail.

    • Moazzam Kamran says:

      Hi Kalen,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes you are right a lot of businesses sometimes get this completely wrong that is why more then half of them fail very early on.

    • Moazzam Kamran says:

      Hi Kalen,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree completely most businesses fail due to their non empathetic approach.

  4. Amal Tlaige says:

    Great post! I never really thought about how when organizations attempt to build better relationships with their customers, they could actually be causing harm. Conducting surveys, having in depth interviews and calculating consumers buying patterns are all dehumanizing organizations.

    I agree. We are too afraid of failure and sometimes overcompensate when not needed. But when you do the same things over and over again “You get stuck in a rut, and that’s the worst place to be for a brand.” Sounding like a repetitive robot for the sake of throwing out information is never a good look for a brand. An organization must show they truly care about their consumers and find various ways to help their consumers improve their life in some way.

    Holding a real conversation with consumers is so simple and a great strategy to use when reaching out to consumers. It’s this small step that will lead to loyal customers.

  5. Moazzam Kamran says:

    Dear Amal,

    Thank you for your comment. Spot on with the real conversation thing. This is where a lot of organizations lose their footing with consumers.

  6. This post is great, thanks for wiring. While I think it is important to put your feet in the shoes of your customers, I also think a key to superior customer service is to also put your feet in the shoes of your employees (think Undercover Boss). We may all think we know what is best for our business, but it is important to get inside the minds of our employees if we really want to succeed. After all, they are our front-line.

  7. Timeless advice Moazzam. We forget to think like a buyer sometimes, then when we push ego aside, and listen up, our lives become easier and we make sales with less effort. People need to see things from their perspective and you better too if you want to sell effectively. Thanks!

    • Moazzam Kamran says:

      Thanks Ryan. Sales is such a focal point for me right now. I am planning to do an article on integrated organizations next. All the functions need to work like cogs in a wheel and as you said leave Ego’s aside.

  8. Maria Kirova says:

    Great points. Too many people get this wrong from the very start, all the way to the beginning of the product generation stage.

  9. Great points. Too many people get this wrong from the very start, all the way to the beginning of the product generation stage.Timeless advice Moazzam. We forget to think like a buyer sometimes,I agree. We are too afraid of failure and sometimes overcompensate when not needed. But when you do the same things over and over again

  10. While doing any business, dont think like a businessman, think like a customer of your own product. Think what things would you like to check before you will buy this product.
    Once you will be assured that you yourself as a customer will like the product now, then only your product is ready to sell and it will win the customers like

  11. andre says:

    yes right, i think a review from other buyers is more important to make sure buy more product

  12. Absolutely agree with the notion of the Blog post. Excellently written and put forward. Thinking like a consumer to capture their psyche and then marketing on that basis is the basic aspect of catching imagination of target users and therefore selling the idea to those individuals. In fact, doing regular surveys especially through electronic media is the easiest way of getting to know or understand consumer preference as well as psyche. I liked the post. Thanks for publishing such a great blog post.

  13. Rahul sati says:

    Good Idea !!
    I agree.

    For a better market main focus should be Consumer centricity

  14. Michelle says:

    You just mentioned some great points here,would love to follow them.I like your post thanks for sharing.

  15. Great points. Well it is a universal fact in the world of marketing and in any other forms of business that we have to define your prospects. And in order to do that sometimes, we need to be one of them for us to know what is really the need, what is totally important to these group of people and show it to them that we have what they need even if they themselves do not know what it is.

  16. Joe Booker says:

    Great post. Very informative and useful.
    Owner of odlanar.com

  17. Jayashree says:

    Great insights on how to do better marketing. WE need to analyze and understand the customer needs and market our products tailoring their needs which will help for better promotion

  18. pawanpawar says:

    I agree. We are too afraid of failure and sometimes overcompensate when not needed. But when you do the same things over and over again “You get stuck in a rut, and that’s the worst place to be for a brand.” Sounding like a repetitive robot for the sake of throwing out information is never a good look for a brand. An organization must show they truly care about their consumers and find various ways to help their consumers improve their life in some way.

  19. Tyrone Tellis says:

    Hey Moazzam, have known you for a while. Never knew you could write like this!

    Great job brother, every savvy marketer knows that trying to segment people into groups we often forget that they are people.

    Check out my slideshare on a related topic:

    http://www.slideshare.net/Tytellis/make-love-not-war-5476144

    Cheers!

    Tyrone

  20. Fabio says:

    Thinking like a consumer really does work. You need to think from the consumers perspective.

  21. I agree, we should embraced failures and learned from them. Once we get rid of this fear of failure, we move towards greater consumer centricity. Also, it is important to connect with the consumers to know what they want and it could actually help us understand on how business and profits grow. As marketers, we need to focus on the products and services that we offer to our consumers.