All Things Digital

Smart Companies; Smarter Consumers
Underestimate your customer’s intelligence at your own peril

The wisdom of children never ceases to amaze me. While dropping my six-year-old son to school one day, we tuned into a radio jingle and it picked up his ears. The ad was for a two-night stay at a resort for Rs 10,000 per room night!

“Isn’t that a lot of money, Dad?” said my pesky toddler.

It made me proud. So her knew the true value of Dad’s heard-earned money and didn’t want me to throw it around on a one-night stay (no pun intended).

There was once a time, when ad gurus used to say, if you want to write the perfect copy, talk to your customer like you are talking to a five-year-old.

Not anymore.

Today’s consumer does not want to be sold to. He wants to be listened to. Well-informed and well-heeled, he is knowledgeable and internet-savvy. He already has access to all the needed information on your product. You just need to know where are the information gaps that need to be filled, and how.

That, believe me, is easier said than done.

I’d be crazy to imagine I can use the same old marketing tactics in a completely new, networked world, where information travels faster than the speed of light – well, metaphorically!

We live in a world, where customers have an opinions over anything and everything and can clearly articulate their unmet needs. You might end up driving them away, if you volunteer information that they are not soliciting, and makes them appear as less intelligent.

Today’s customer is driving the future and he’s not asking for a navigator. All he is asking for is more value, a customized service, prompt, hassle-free delivery and fair price. Doesn’t matter if you charge a small premium for it.

Just last weekend, I bought myself a new smart phone. I’s done my research, looked around on Amazon, Snapdeal and Flipkart and narrowed down my search to two-three brands. In the end, I chatted with an online representative and closed the deal. My friends later told me it was a steal!

Brands have never been more vulnerable. The balance of power has shifted from companies to customers and the latter are putting it to good use. Regular consumers of healthcare services are now accessing expert reviews, user reviews, and product data from ‘n’ number of trusted internet sites.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that nearly 90% of consumers study online reviews before making a major purchase decision. Since companies are dealing with knowledge-empowered customers, they have to look beyond traditional market research gain meaningful insights into consumer behavior. The challenge is to leverage consumer intelligence in favor of their superior product offering.

Big data analytics be damned, sometimes you can dig up great wisdom in words than in statistics. Qualitative data can be as revealing as quantitative. Ask yourself: “Of I hated the idea of being sold to, how would I react to this line of brand communication?”

In one ruthless move, today’s consumers have killed the experienced, travelling salesman who is supposed to tell them exactly what to do to save money. They can’t be fooled into believing that your proposition is authentic through ubiquitous marketing. They won’t fall for gimmickry, but yes, they just might fall for a good product experience.

The bottom line: complex customer behavior cannot be interpreted with a bunch of pie charts.