Customer expectations are at an all-time high. Technology has made just about anything possible; in this ‘magic’ world, consumers have no bounds on their expectations. Digital opens up massive opportunities to deliver magical experiences. However, the next big thing in tech won’t move the needle for your relationships with consumers if you aren’t solving a problem for them.
To win, you need to provide value to your consumers. Delivering value requires understanding what consumers consider valuable. Can you answer a need that others cannot? Can you be there at the point of need when your competitors are a few steps behind? Can your products and services give consumers a “superpower” they did not have before?
Meeting basic needs
In 1943, Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of human needs that covers needs ranging some simple physiological needs, to needs for self-actualization and esteem.1 Interestingly, not much has changed since then. As the marketing value of flashy technology wears off, returning to core consumer needs, and delivering consistent experiences that consumers can trust, is the best way to create lasting and valuable relationships and brand perception.
For instance, Nivea delivers sun care products that meet parents’ need for safety. However, they wanted to let consumers know that the brand stands for safety more broadly. Since parents want to protect their kids at the beach (beyond sun safety), Nivea put a beacon bracelet in their magazine sunscreen ad. The bracelet lets the parent’s smartphone track the location of the child and stop them from running off. The result? Nivea delivered greater value by extending safety beyond sunscreen lotion, addressing a core need of Moms.
Redefining value in light of consumers’ needs
These are some ideas to consider for delivering value amid shifts in consumer expectations.
Meet liquid expectations. Consumers are learning to copy-and-paste expectations between categories and industries, which means CPGs have a new set of competitors to contend with. As tech companies and startups alike unlock new possibilities and experiences, product marketing may not be enough to stand out in the crowd. CPG companies need to use their digital capabilities to develop a sixth sense that enables them to anticipate what consumers need, and then act on it at the point of need, out-flanking their new ‘experiential’ competitors.
Pursue foreign territory. CPG companies want to win the war in the store, but the battleground now extends to wherever your consumers are. If you want loyalty, you must compete for a share of mind or a share of relationship by delivering an integrated experience across all things. Sometimes that may require partnering up. Flexible technology and supply chain platforms allow you to be part of a broader ecosystem with partners that can help you deliver moments of delight, whether through an app, via subscription or in the store.
Achieve molecular scale. There is no such thing as a macro consumer. To deliver value, you must go ‘molecular’ – to the lowest level of detail – in your data, your moments of interaction, and even your promotional tactics. Modern analytics can then identify the significant ‘micro’ trends in all that data and enable action both in context and at scale.
Digital disruption has created a new world in which large-scale promotions and marketing to “everyone” no longer is enough. CPG companies that really want to win need to get back to basic human needs and expectations. They must develop the level of consumer insight needed to appeal to one, not all. And they need to develop a customized journey where the company can solve a problem or deliver value immediately, and often.