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IBM Study Finds Consumers Are Disappointed By Marketers

Via Forbes : While there is an abundance of insight from the marketer’s point of view, a new report from IBM/Econsultancy reminded me that we don’t have much perspective regarding what consumers think of marketing. In a novel piece of research, 4 out of every 5 consumers say that brands don’t behave as if they really know them—the translation is the marketers aren’t marketing effectively to consumers.

What makes the research below most intriguing is the suggestion that today, with marketers more digitally capable, quantitative, and analytical, these skills aren’t necessarily translating into consumer enhancing experiences. This research is an important reminder that quantitative skills, analytical skills, and digital capability are table stakes. They are necessary but insufficient. Beyond understanding and insight is the ability to make the consumer feel, to make her think, and to connect with her in a way that changes affect, beliefs, and behavior.

“Knowing your customer is important. But even more important is applying that knowledge at the right time, at the right place, and in the right way. We’ve all been talking about personalized experiences and omni-channel marketing for years, but it’s clear from this study that there remains a large chasm between what the customers expect, and what the brands are delivering,” said Deepak Advani, General Manager, IBM Commerce.

“In order to truly understand customers, marketers need to gather and integrate different types of data – behavioral, demographic, attitudinal. And apply different type of analytics – predictive, cognitive, descriptive. Insights from these analytics need to be applied in real-time and in-context. Delivering these personalized experiences are key to building brand advocacy. We live in a time where if customers don’t absolutely love your brand, they won’t come back – and neither will their friends,” adds Advani.

I wonder if this is a soft warning bell to marketers—and those that hire them. As we move to emphasize the left brain, might we be devaluing the role that the right brain plays in effective marketing (I know … neuroscientists don’t agree with the left brain/right brain metaphor but it works to help make my point)? The research reminded me of a visit I made to a sophisticated, CRM-based entertainment firm a decade ago. They had state-of-the-art systems and tools to understand behavior. It was quite impressive at the time. They could predict when a customer would defect. The problem was, they couldn’t figure out how to stop the consumer from defecting. Their marketing team was comprised of “quant jocks” who could describe but not sell. Perhaps this research is a reminder that marketing is not just about insight, but the ability to use that insight to create change.

“I think we’re at a point where the challenge isn’t perfecting the technology or unifying our data. The real challenge now is human,” said Stefan Tornquist, VP, research at Econsultancy. “We want to build long term relationships with people but our thinking is short-term and selfish. Most companies want to differentiate through customer experience, but most will only take half measures because really devoting themselves to what consumers need means rebuilding from the inside out.”

INSIGHT FROM THE STUDY

Consumers Believe Brands (and Marketers) Don’t Understand Them
90% of marketers agree that personalizing the customer experience is critical to their success. However, few consumers believe they are actually getting personalized experience. Only 21% of consumers said the communications from the average company are “usually relevant” while only 35% said those from their preferred retailers are “usually relevant”.

Customer Loyalty is Tenuous, with Customer Churn Driven by Poor Experiences
49% of consumers changed service providers in the last 12 months with experience-related factors playing a prominent role. Of those who changed providers, 30% switched due to provider failure, with 51% citing customer experience as the number one factor.

Customer Trust is One Gateway to Deeper Consumer Insight
72% of consumers said they would share their geographic data with a brand they trust (an increase of 89% over the average brand) and 61% of consumers would be willing to share their personally identifiable information with a brand they trust (increase of 65% over the average company).

Kimberly A. Whitler

As a former CMO, I’ve worked both in the U.S. and overseas for a variety of companies, such as P&G, PetSmart, and David’s Bridal. After nearly 20 years in industry, I obtained a Ph.D. and am currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, conducting research that addresses contemporary CMO challenges.

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