Anticipate Needs to Earn Loyalty
By John Hennessy
According to Forrester Research, as covered by Chief Marketer, meeting the consumer’s current needs isn’t enough to guarantee success. A marketer must also anticipate future needs.
In a recently released report, Forrester analyst Christine Spivey Overby dubs this proactive approach “consumer-focused innovation” and outlines its three basic principles:
- “Consumers are active co-innovators.” According to Ms. Overby, “More and more, companies are using consumer insights to shape innovation from an embryonic concept to market
testing.” By way of example she cites Nestle’s “relationship centers” in France and Japan, where nutritionists, marketers and execs respond to more than 200,000 queries and
requests from consumers every year.
- “Consumers’ latent needs are as important as their explicit needs.” This is a corollary to the rule of marketing that advises taking focus groups with a pillar of salt, since
consumers often don’t consciously know–let alone can tell you–what it is they want or need.
- “Experience trumps products.” Starbucks is the oft-cited example here of how a company can distinguish itself by the experiential circumstances in which it wraps its products.
Or as Ms. Overby says, “Consumer products firms will avoid the commodity death spiral by selling experiences–not products.”
Moderator’s Comment: What can retailers and marketers do to help satisfy the future needs of shoppers?
I like the way Ms. Overby expands the marketing discussion to include the anticipation of future needs. She could add a fourth principle: Shopper purchase
history can be used to not only anticipate but satisfy future needs.
Shoppers who consistently purchase the latest fashions should be informed when the new styles arrive. This helps the shopper satisfy their penchant for
style, saves them time and increases sales for the proactive retailer.
Shoppers who are shifting away from prepared foods and showing cook-at-home traits should be supported through increasingly challenging recipes with expanding
ingredient and preparation options.
Retailers could use their purchase history to execute both examples. These and other examples based on thoughtful use of purchase history will make shoppers
more comfortable in their decision to rely more on a specific retailer. The net result will be more sales for the retailer. –
John Hennessy – Moderator