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Friday, June 24, 2022

How Customer-Obsessed Marketing Strategies Win in the Inflationary, Post-Covid Economy * [39]

 


Consider the current economic environment in the United States: gasoline $5 a gallon, inflation approaching 9%, huge price escalation in all consumer purchase categories, supply chain stockouts, the stock market in bear territory, a total lack of political leadership, and a recession imminent in the U.S. (This is not to say that things are great worldwide, as well). This market reality follows two-plus years of Covid lockdowns and restrictions. SMEs as well as giant corporations are facing unprecedented challenges in finding/keeping good employees and coping with large cost increases. Companies that survived fought back Covid and financial challenges by adapting to the new and difficult market issues and by being customer-obsessed.  

According to Forrester Research, a customer-obsessed enterprise “focuses its strategy, operations, and budget to enhance its knowledge of and engagement with customers.” They add that customer obsessed organizations are customer-led, insights-driven, fast, and connected. For further insights on customer obsession and Covid-19 responses, read articles 2 & 24 from the Customer Value in the Now Economy blog. 

Customer Value in the Now Economy: Customer Focus to Customer Obsession [2] (scv-weinstein.blogspot.com)

Customer Value in the Now Economy: Rethinking Customer Experience Management in the Novel Economy by Brian Solis * [24] (scv-weinstein.blogspot.com)

Chauvet Lighting manufactures lights and special effects equipment for venues such as concert arenas, nightclubs, theatres, and megachurches. Given the Covid-19 pandemic, like many businesses, Chauvet was forced to pursue new market opportunities such as drive-thru events such as concerts, comedy shows, and haunted houses. Other new ventures have included the production of social media content and educational videos targeting out-of-work lighting designers and repurposing video walls.

The global pandemic forced companies to rethink all business and marketing strategies to survive. This is particularly evident in the services sector which accounts for about 75% of the Gross Domestic Product in industrialized countries. Airlines, hotels, restaurants, retailers, small businesses, and universities are some of the industry sectors that had to quickly pivot to compete effectively in a new world slowly emerging from lockdowns and characterized by social distancing, contactless transactions, customers wearing face coverings, and virtual meetings.

Companies that were able to make this transition seamlessly in the Covid economy succeeded because they refused to fail and are truly obsessed about their business and customer base. They are willing to do whatever it takes even if it means struggling in the near-term to prosper over the long-term. Innovative universities offered blended learning which includes reduced capacities in the classrooms (20-33%), Zoom lectures, video recordings, and increased online instruction.

Restaurants provide an excellent case in point. Many “mom-and-pop” restaurants are micro-enterprises with twenty or fewer employees. They already are challenged by high costs (food, rent, equipment, etc.), labor concerns, local and federal regulations, and direct and indirect competition. Traditionally, they have one of the highest business failure rates in normal and good economies. In the Covid era, great food, superior service, and fair prices are no longer enough in determining winners from losers. A customer-obsessed mindset calls for adaptive and innovative business practices. Successful restaurants quickly embraced reduced indoor seating, outdoor dining options, curbside pick-up, delivery service, and contact-free credit card payments. In addition, they realized the importance of retaining existing customers and treating them as a special friend or family member, emulating Japanese style customer service. Other marketing tactics include new menu offerings such as family packs and comfort foods. Promotional strategies have to be more creative and often emphasize social media, price incentives such as BOGOs (buy one meal, get one meal free), and Covid-friendly giveaways such as branded face masks or trial-size hand sanitizers. One enterprising pizzeria even gave their customers a free roll of toilet paper with every pie ordered!  

Questions to think about

1.  Is your company customer na├»ve, customer aware, customer-committed, or customer-obsessed?

2. Explain specific ways that your marketing strategy is customer-obsessed?

3. How can your company become even more customer-obsessed to create exceptional value and compete successfully in the Now Economy?


* Art Weinstein, Ph.D., is the blogmaster and a Professor of Marketing at Nova Southeastern University. He may be contacted at art@nova.edu

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