A deeper dive into two industries illustrates why becoming customer centric is not a one-size-fits-all exercise and why sellers stand to benefit from really getting to know their buyers.
Food manufacturers, for example, typically have detailed product specifications and they tend to buy formulation-intensive products. These practices lead them to place a high value on sellers that can accurately meet their needs. Fifty percent of the buyers in this industry are willing to pay a price premium, and 65 percent are willing to buy significantly higher volumes—if their needs are fully met. The three most important needs of these buyers are ease of returns, easy access to product information and a good working culture.
Plastic & rubber products
A different pattern emerges for producers of plastic and rubber products. These companies primarily buy commodity chemicals. Thus, they are less focused on the precise fulfillment of their needs and perhaps more price sensitive, compared to food manufacturing companies. But they still respond favorably to their needs being met, with 38 percent indicating they are willing to pay a price premium and 51 percent saying they would significantly increase their purchasing volume. The highest-ranked preferences for these companies are regulatory support (e.g., for product registration), delivery responsiveness and access to products that help them differentiate their own offerings.
The industry-by-industry picture is further complicated by the fact that customer needs differ by region. In food manufacturing, for example, ease of returns is the top-ranked factor in the Americas and the Asia Pacific region. In Europe, it does not even make the top 10. (Figure 3)
Figure 3: Top needs in food manufacturing by region