A big part of any marketing plan is a basic understanding of the target consumer. Besides determining the products and services to sell, understanding the consumer plays a role providing a customer experience that brings customers back. Unfortunately, research shows that marketers think they are better at this than they really are. A pair of studies from IBM And Econsultancy show a large disparity between how marketers and customers feel about how well they understand the consumer.
The IBM and Econsultancy study found that almost 90 percent of marketers agree that personalizing the customer experience is critical to their success. However, nearly 80 percent of consumers stated that the average brand doesn’t understand them as an individual.
The research is based on two studies. One a survey of marketing professionals from 276 consumer companies, most with revenues in excess of $1 billion. The second study features direct responses from 1,135 consumers. Combined, the studies revealed a disconnect between how well marketers thought they were doing with customers and how customers actually perceived those efforts.
As one would suspect, most marketers feel they are good at their jobs, and vicariously, good at relating to their target audience. According to the first study, four out of five (80%) marketers surveyed reported that The studies found that 80 percent of marketers strongly believe they “have a holistic view of individual customers and segments across interactions and channels”. The majority of the marketers surveyed also reported confidence in their abilities to deliver superior consumer experiences on offline (75%), online (69%) and on mobile devices (57%).
However, when researchers asked consumers how they felt about retailers understanding them or the tactics they used, the results showed that customers aren’t satistifed with the experiences they get now from retailers. Just a little more than one in three (37%) said they believed their preferred retailer understands them as an individual. About the same amount (35%) said that said the communications from their preferred retailers are “usually relevant”.
Consumers were even less confident in the abilities of the average retailer. Only about one in five (22%) of respondents say the average retailer understands them as an individual. Similarly, around 21 percent said the communications from their average are “usually relevant”
Delivering a satisfactory consumer experience is important to a company’s future. According to the researchers. During the past 12 months, 30 percent of the survey respondents said they switched retailers due to provider failure, with 51 percent citing customer experience as the number one factor. Another 59 percent switched because the new company offered something better, with 42 percent stating products as the top factor followed by experience at 29 percent.
“The fundamental thinking behind digital marketing has shifted. The goal of providing the right message to the right person at the right time is now just a part of the larger puzzle. The real challenge is providing the right experience for the right person at a time that’s right for them,” said Stefan Tornquist, Vice President Research for the Americas at Econsultancy. “At the center of it all is the marriage of marketing and technology and a commitment to innovation that’s driven by individual customer needs.”
These studies show the importance of continually improving marketing and sales tactics to give customers the experience they want. This means providing relevant content that touches on the true needs of the customer and distributing it on platform and device of the consumer’s choice.
For more information on what consumer wants, read this article on an IBM study about personalization preferences among consumers.