Why it’s worth knowing your customer
Louise Findlay-Wilson, founder and managing director at Energy PR, explains the importance of understanding your customer’s identity, values and lifestyle.
We recently researched over 100 leading marketers, people responsible for the success of top brands, to find out what makes great brands tick. The findings are summarised in our Brand Love report, but the punch line is that the best brands, those which are truly loved, really know their customers.
But they don’t simply file away this information. They use it to inform and shape their own behaviour. So much so that 55% of those we studied think great, loved brands have values which align with their customer’s values and 42% say these brands become part of their customers lives.
How to know your customer
But how can the average company understand its customers with this level of intimacy?
Well, customer data is certainly a good place to start. These days most organisations are overflowing with data, or the opportunity to gather it. By mining this, using big data skills, companies can draw significant conclusions about their customers. How they choose to buy and when, the process they go through, the options they prefer, influences, and interests.
When properly analysed, such data will help ensure a business, its approach and communications keep in step with the customer.
For instance on the marketing front, data will tell you the type of content you should be sharing with the customer and when, the products/services they will respond to, the type of deals/offers they will respond to best, when customer support is likely to be needed and the form it should take. The customer will not feel like just another name on a list, but someone properly understood. And that’s powerful stuff.
By truly knowing the customer, a company can also modify its decisions, so that its values and approach are in sync. This is absolutely crucial as few of us are fans of brands we can’t relate to in some shape or form.
For instance, Morrisons was one of the brands identified by our marketers as a great, loved brand. Morrisons’ loved status seems to be derived from its values which are showcased right across the business. The UK’s fourth largest grocer doesn’t just ‘do’ retail it also has 18 manufacturing sites, bakeries, abattoirs, fishing fleets and egg farms.
Despite this size and diversity, the business sees itself as a family and when people join, either in store or on their farms, they are welcomed ‘into the family’. It’s easy to see how this family feel fits with its customers – people doing a family shop.
The company also seems to chime with the values of ethical shoppers. It has trumpeted no waste, sustainability for some time and has operated endless initiatives for disadvantaged families during lockdown, but in an unshowy way. It feels ‘decent’. An old fashioned but powerful word. For people offered an array of food retail brands – from the budget-conscious Aldi through to the high-end Waitrose, Morrisons seems to have smartly carved out a niche reflecting the values of a chunk of customers. No mean feat!
For businesses which struggle to separate themselves from the pack, the lesson from Morrisons is that a commitment to customer understanding can be the point of difference. Not least because so few businesses really commit to understanding their customer or allow the knowledge to shape their behaviour.
When a company truly understands its customers identity, values and lifestyle, and acts accordingly, allowing the knowledge to shape business and marketing decisions, brand love and loyalty follow.