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Friday, May 15, 2020

The Value of Investing in Customer Value Management by Laura Patterson * [112]


My very first business job was in the financial services industry and my title was customer relationship manager. This was long before the emergence of customer relationship management (CRM) tools. My boss at the time was four decades ahead of the mainstream thinking articulated by Phil Kotler in his 2017 article, Customer Value Management - "a company’s job is to create superior customer value in the mind of the customer.” Looking back, I’d say a more accurate title would have been customer value manager because my job was less about the customer experience and increasing customer satisfaction and more about employing data to identify customers from whom we could create and extract more value. This is the focus of customer value management.
Peter C. Verhoef and Katherine N. Lemon, define customer value management (CVM), as the optimization of the value of a company’s customer base. CVM expands on customer relationship management. CRM focuses on how a company manages the interaction with current and potential customers with an emphasis on developing long-term customer retention. Relationship management emphasizes satisfaction and uses measures such as NPS or Gallup’s customer engagement metric. CVM focuses on aspects of the relationship such as commitment and trust and seeks to use and analyze customer data explicitly to increase customer value. Gautam Mahajan, president of the Customer Value Foundation reinforces this idea when he says, “CVM focuses on creating value for customers.”
Many companies are embracing and investing in customer value management. To achieve CVM, you must know what customers value, which can vary greatly among customer segments. You must discern what customers perceive as important, why they buy, why they prefer one company or product over another, and what benefits they believe the product or service delivers. An example of trying to surmise customer values can be illustrated in the traditional car purchase. If you’ve ever been in a conversation with a car salesperson, you may have heard this common question: “Which is more important to you, how much you pay a month or the loan rate?” Different customer segments value different benefits – such as return policies, warranties, service level, and as this example shows, financing options.

Creating a Metric to Determine Customer Value

Customer value reflects the economic value of the customer relationship to your organization. To create and extract customer value you need to know what is truly important to the customer in the buying process, the relative importance of price and benefits, and the associated attributes in relation to the value you provide and the value you derive.
Customer value management relies heavily on data and analytics to build long-term relationships and expand share of wallet without increasing the cost of acquisition and cost to serve. You will need data related to value attributes, tenure, share of wallet, recency and frequency of purchase, cost to acquire, and cost to serve. Fortunately, advances in data management and analytics are making it possible for organizations of all sizes to cost-effectively acquire this data and employ it to measure customer value. To support this work, we’d recommend you classify your customer data into four different categories:
  1. Customer firmographic data (name, company, title, contact info, location info, industry, initial date of acquisition, etc.)
  2. Customer transaction data (recent purchases, frequency of purchases, products purchased, quantities, pricing info, etc.)
  3. Customer interaction/engagement data (behavioral data such as touches, channels, service tickets, content consumption info, etc.)
  4. Customer financial data (cost to acquire, lifetime value, profitability data, rate of consumption, etc.)

As you gain insight into what customers value, you can use this data to determine which customers are of the most value to your organization. Use the data to evaluate customers in terms of:

  • lifetime value
  • transaction value
  • referral value
  • influencer value
  • market share contribution
  • customer profitability
This type of analysis enables you to identify and decide which customers to invest in and how to allocate your budget across customer segments. You can also use this analysis to identify what services and capabilities your most profitable customers leverage. It will also help you reap the value of your investment in CVM. Armed with the data and analysis you can create a customer value metric. To create a customer value metric, check out this companion post on a measure that provide insight into customer value. If you’re just getting started, a book I often recommend on the topic is Bradley Gales’ Managing Customer Value.

CVM as a Competitive Advantage

Every business must create value for customers to survive and thrive. When you see creating customer value strategically, you can develop the infrastructure, culture, strategies, and programs that optimize every opportunity to positively impact how customers perceive the value offered.
We can turn to three points emphasized by Art Weinstein in his book, Superior Customer Value, to ensure a company builds a competitive advantage in a climate where value reigns supreme:

  1. Design strategies that provide superior customer value.
  2. Focus on excellence. Customers will not pay more than a product is worth.
  3. Build a customer-centric culture throughout your organization and mandate providing outstanding customer value.

  4. The ability to determine and extract customer value is a competitive advantage.

    Today’s customers are smart and have access to more information and choices than ever before. In such a market, your company must create maximum value and solve relevant problems. The ability to determine and extract customer value is a competitive advantage that reflects the degree to which your customers perceive your organization as more valuable than the alternatives. CVM helps you determine whether your brand is important to customers and what about it they value most. While customer value management requires a bit more effort than customer relationship management, it provides excellent guidance as to who and what to invest in.
    Customer value is not something you can create in one day. To sustain it, you need to combine service quality, product quality, and innovation into a strategy.
    * Laura Patterson is a marketing practitioner, consultant, and speaker. Contact her at  laurap@visionedgemarketing.com



Thursday, February 20, 2020

Misconceptions About Store Brands by Selima Ben Mrad * [111]

National or manufacturer brands have been for a while the choice of consumers and a signal for quality. Consumers usually trust manufacturers’ brands and associate them with a certain level of quality. However, this is not the case for store brands. US consumers still lack the knowledge about private label and avoid buying them unless the product does not generate any risk. Private-label brand success is strongest in commodity driven, high-purchase categories and products where consumers perceive very little differentiation (Nielsen 2014) . While store brands or private label market share keeps growing in many European countries, this is not the case in the United States. Indeed, the market share in several European countries is more than 30% with UK , Spain, and Switzerland having the highest market share among European countries. (PLMA’s International Private Label, 2017). The United States private label market share has been lower than its counterparts in Europe and it is only lately that this trend has been changing.  Today, the market share of store brands has reached nearly 25% of unit sales in the U.S. and is expanding faster than national brands (PLMA 2017).
So What is Private Brand or Store Brand?

Private brand is any brand that comprises the retailers’ name or any name created by the retailer (PLMA 2017). Target, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, and Walgreens market their own brands. For instance, Target has a store brand “Up & Up” in their household product line that is much diversified. Some retailers, such as Walmart, see private label as part of the road to their future success. Indeed, Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, when speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Consumer & Retail Technology Conference in New York, stated that “The widespread availability of name-brand products online will compress the margins of private brands over time.” He also added that "having a private brand from a margin mix point of view has always been important, but it is even more important now.”  Therefore, it is important to educate customers about private brands. Indeed there are some misconceptions about store brands:

1. They are of  lower quality than manufacturer brands
2. They are manufactured by the retailer
3. There is only one category of store brands
4. They have low prices
5. They generate high risk
The truth about store brands is that they are indeed similar to manufacturers’ brands and sometimes even of better quality. Here are some clarifications about store brands:
Who Manufactures Store Brands?

According to PLMA (2017), there are different ways that store brands are manufactured. They can be produced by:

• Large manufacturers who produce both their own brands and private label products.
• Small and medium size manufacturers that specialize in particular product lines and concentrate on producing private label almost exclusively.
• Major retailers and wholesalers that operate their own manufacturing plants and provide private label products for their own stores.
Categories of Store Brands

Private label brands are classified into generic brands, standard brands or copycat brands or flagship brands, premium brands, and value innovators.

1. Generic brands are usually cheap, inferior products. Usually they do not carry the name of the retailer on the package , but simply the name of the product, such as ‘milk’ or ‘butter’, in plain script . They usually use very cheap packaging .
2. Copycats or flagship brands or standard brands. They usually carry the name of the retailer and tend to copy the main manufacturer within that category, they have packaging and price points very similar to the main manufacturer.
3. Premium store brands are usually of higher quality than the manufacturer brand  and compete directly against the manufacturer’s  brand. Kumar and Steenkamp (2007) define two types of premium brands: the premium private label which is exclusive, higher in price, and superior in quality to competing brands; and the premium-lite store brand which is promoted as being equal or better in quality to the competing brands, while being cheaper.
4. The fourth category is value innovators which consists mainly of retailers reducing costs and processes to simplify the production and marketing of product ranges, so that a good quality product can be offered at very low prices. They are usually limited in number.
Benefits of Store Brands

Store brands provide retailers with several key benefits. It gives them exclusivity to offer their customers special products, which make consumers loyal to them. In addition, store brands create a unique brand image and generate more retailer brand recall and recognition. Finally, store brands increase retailers’ revenues and have higher profit margins.
Attitude Towards Store Brands

The positive or negative attitude towards store brands has been attributed to several causes. Consumers evaluate store brands based on price/value of those brands, the products’ attributes, on the perceived risk and on their own self-perception (smart shopper). Consumers who buy store brands realize that when they are indeed purchasing store brands they are paying for certain “marketing” practices for  manufacturers’ brands, which is not the case of retailers' brands.
References:

Hamstra M (20017) “Walmart CEO cites growing importance of private label Store brands seen as driver of margins, loyalty” www://www.supermarketnews.com/walmart/walmart-ceo-cites-growing-importance-private-label
Kumar, N  and J.B  E.M. Steenkamp, ‘Private Label Strategy’, Harvard Business School Press, 2007.
Nielsen (2014) https://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/kr/docs/global-report/2014/Nielsen%20Global%20Private%20Label%20Report%20November%202014.pdf
PLMA (2017) ; http://www.plmainternational.com/in

* Selima Ben Mrad, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at: sbenmrad@nova.edu


Monday, December 30, 2019

How Jamestown Descendants Used an Entrepreneurial Mindset to Survive and Thrive by Hilton Barrett * [110]






Circa late 16th century, the Old World -- the early era of colonization. Why did our ancestors leave England to establish a colony in the New World? Why would they leave the “safe” conditions of England for unknown lands?

Most of England’s populace was ‘country folk’ with little education and even fewer choices as to life decisions. The vast majority of the people were peasants and received little education and had few vocational opportunities beyond being a peasant. There were comparatively few families we would call middle class. London was overcrowded due to a population boom plus arrival of peasants who could not find reasonable employment in the countryside. It was congested with an overwhelming stench. In society, self-indulgence was rampant, rudeness ruled, and social disintegration was evident. Corruption was rampant, at all levels of society.

Religion and church were major issues. The establishment Catholic Church was being challenged by Protestants. Europe and England were intensely divided over religion. Religious and social factions were under increasing attack from each other in England.

Spain had a head start in colonization and trade in the New World. England was becoming isolated and offered limited options for its people. England needed to expand its domain and how it viewed opportunities outside its sphere. Colonization in the New World was a means to increase its treasury and influence.

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh sent two ships to the New World to establish a colony. Once established, shiploads of settlers would be sent to expand England’s domain. On July 4th, 1584, the ship sighted land – a long sand bar off the North Carolina coast. They went through an inlet and onto what is now known as Roanoke Island. They discovered a fruitful land and kind natives. The queen claimed all of America north of Florida as English property. Alas, the area was bountiful as to cropland but had none of the gold and silver found by the Spaniards in the areas now known as Mexico and Peru.

Were the colonists in America victims of the political and religious uproar within England and much of the rest of Europe? Relating to the power of the Church of England, there is evidence that the colonists were ‘separatists’ and did not receive the necessary support from the government and religious sector within England.

Given this historical setting, what are the profiles of people who would take the risk of moving their families to a new land of which little was known? Our premise is that these trailblazers exhibited traits that today we would call entrepreneurial and value creating.

These settlers had to fend for themselves under harsh conditions. They exhibited similar intrapreneurial characteristics that business practitioners might use to start a venture within a corporate structure. According to Covin & Slevin (1991), corporate entrepreneurship behavior is based on three key tenets: 1) innovation (launch concepts that have not been done before), 2) risk-taking propensity (go out on a limb since that is where the fruit is), and 3) proactiveness (take appropriate action in anticipation of future problems or needs).

According to Blue Ocean Outsource (2019), there are five major theories of entrepreneurship: economic, resource-based, opportunity-based, sociological, and psychological. The latter perspective (psychological) is representative of trait theory.

Trait theory can be expressed in numerous ways. For example, the “Trait Theory of Entrepreneurial Leadership” consists of twelve attributes in five trait-related areas (Erkkila, 2000):

  > creative, imaginative, and flexible

  > autonomous and high locus of control

  > achievement-oriented, diligent, initiative-directed, and problem-solving

  > leadership and persuasiveness

  > risk-taking (moderate)

With respect to the Jamestown colony, consider the following scenario:  


1    They were dissatisfied with their position in life and their opportunities.


2    They held religious beliefs which supported the ‘leap of faith’ to a better life for self and family.

3    They had a strong belief in themselves and what they could accomplish given the opportunity. They had a high locus of control (they, not outside factors, were basis for their success). 
In sum, they had the ability to understand their options, a degree of sociability (worked well with others), an ability to understand what were their feasible options, were accepting of moderate risks, tolerance of others and their ideas, and need for dominance when required, and industriousness. They believed in their own abilities to accomplish ambitious goals.

Failure was a learning process. They had a low need for conformity (after all, how many would have taken the risk to leave England and come to America?) Psychologically, they had or developed planning and problem-solving abilities. They had a high level of energy and willingness to work hard. And perhaps most importantly, they developed the ability to accept change.

As history revealed, the original colony did not survive. However, the commitment to colonize America had been established. In 1607, the London Company sent a colony that did become the first English settlement in America – Jamestown on the James River in Virginia. 

The characteristics of the original colonists and those who settled Jamestown had the same decision making and belief profile of the group of people we, today, call entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are not just people starting businesses, they are people who recognize and nurture new ideas that benefit society.


References

Blue Ocean Outsource (2019), Theories of entrepreneurship: traits of an entrepreneur, April 4, https://blueoceanoutsource.co.ke/

Covin, J.G. & Slevin, D.P. (1991), A conceptual model of entrepreneurship behavior as firm behavior, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice 16 (1), 7-26.

Erkkila, K. (2000), Entrepreneurial Education, NY: Garland.

* Dr. Hilton Barrett is a Professor of Business (Retired) at Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina. A renowned entrepreneurship scholar, Dr. Barrett is published in leading journals in marketing, management, strategy, and innovation. Dr. Barrett resides in close proximity to the original Jamestown settlement and gives historical talks on this subject. He may be reached at jhiltonbarrett@outlook.com


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

10 Tips for Designing a Market Research Questionnaire by Herb Brotspies and Suri Weisfeld-Spolter * [109]


Finding superior customer value often requires market research to solve a problem, identify an opportunity, or understand customer behavior.  Both qualitative and quantitative market research are useful tools.  In quantitative market research, survey design can be a challenge. Writing a useful questionnaire is part art and part science.  The purpose of a questionnaire is to gather marketing information that helps you make an informed decision.  Once you have decided on the objectives of the market research, how you will use the information, who your respondent target is, and any decision criteria, it is time to draft the questionnaire. Here are 10 helpful guidelines:


1.      Include a brief (2 or 3 sentences) introduction to the questionnaire telling the respondent about the questionnaire, thanking the respondent, detailing the estimated time to completion and assuring respondents of the confidentiality of their answers. This will help increase the response rate.

2.      Begin the survey with a screening question(s), to make sure the person you are going to interview is qualified to answer your questions. You want people that are familiar with your product/brand/ service/topic to be participating in the survey. The key to the qualifying question(s) is that if the respondent’s answer is ‘no’ to being familiar with or using the product or service, then the survey is terminated and the person does not participate. (Example: I am interested in the perception of Tesla customer service among Tesla electric car owners. My questionnaire targets are current or former Tesla owners. Therefore, my screening questions could be: “Do you currently own a Tesla?”  If yes, continue with the survey.  If no, ask, “Have you ever owned  a Tesla?”  If yes, continue, if no, terminate.) 

3.      As you develop questions, ask yourself the following to determine if you should use each question: “Does each question produce information that is necessary to address the research objectives of the study?”  If the answer is no, do not include the question. 

4.      Use a variety of survey question types including ratings, rankings, forced choices, and semantic differential scales, to answer your research questions.  Keep in mind the types of questions you ask may limit the method of analysis and quality of the information you can get from analyzing the data.

5.      Related to point four, consider using Likert-type questions when measuring attitude and satisfaction.  They are easy to construct and easy for respondents to fill out.  (Example: Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements using the 1 to 5 scale below).

6.      When using semantic differential questions, make sure that the descriptors are true opposites of each other.  Semantic differential scales use polar opposites that respondents are asked to choose from to best describe something.  For example, weak and strong, indecisive and decisive, cheap and expensive.  Picking the wrong opposite can yield misleading results.

7.      Demographic questions go at the end of the questionnaire unless key demographics are required for screening respondents in or out. Ask demographic questions that are relevant to your research.  These might include age, income, family size, employment status, geographical location, and other information.  These answers will provide useful cross tab analysis by showing response differences between men and women, purchase interest in a product by income level, or influence of family size on product attributes.

8.      Be sure that response categories have no problems with mutual exclusiveness. (Example: Your age choices should not be 18-25 and 25-30 because if someone is 25, which category do they belong to?)  Also be sure categories have equal breaks.  For example, the age break of 18-24 has seven ages so all of the age breaks should have seven age breaks.

9.      The questionnaire should be easy to complete with clear instructions, clear and simple wording and be neat looking.  For example, if a respondent answers a particular question with a no, they are clearly directed to a different follow-up question than if they answered yes. (The pretest will help with this part!)

10.  Always pretest!  But be sure to pretest among the target respondents.  If you are conducting research among mothers with children who are heavy users of laundry detergent testing the questionnaire among college students will give you misleading results. 

* Herb Brotspies is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing (Retired) at Nova Southeastern University. For further information, contact Dr. Brotspies at hvb95@aol.com.  Suri Weisfeld-Spolter, Ph.D., is a Professor of Marketing  at Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at sw887@nova.edu.


How a North Star Metric Can Guide Stellar Business Performance [10]

[The North Star Metric (NSM) is the single metric that best captures the core value that your product delivers to customers. Optimizing your efforts to grow this metric is key to driving sustainable growth across your full customer base.]  Sean Ellis


           A new and powerful measure that impacts marketing performance (revenue generation and profits) is the North Star Metric (NSM), born in Silicon Valley. Examples of North Star Metrics include Facebook’s daily active users and Airbnb’s night bookings for hosts and guests. An NSM is a single item metric that calculates the overall value that your products and services deliver to customers. Companies using this innovative approach must identify sub-variables that can positively move this measure – e.g., inquiries, user signups, new user activations, customer journey assessments and engagement and retention measures (Ellis, 2017).
Bucky Barlow brilliantly explains this idea: “Like its namesake Polaris in the sky, your North Star Metric is the one that you can count on to help make your way home. When you look up at the sky, Polaris isn’t the first star you see. It’s not the brightest star in the sky either. But because it’s located almost directly above the North Pole, you can use it to navigate effectively.”  He adds three key points: 1) a NSM metric drives a magical, “a-ha” moment from the customer that drives sustainable growth, 2) it’s likely that your NSM isn’t a flashy number such as Facebook likes or Twitter followers and 3) a focus on a single number can energize an organization as all employees know what needs to be accomplished (Barlow, 2017). 
          Since we can’t measure everything, the challenge is to focus on those metrics that truly impact business performance. As an example, a travel provider in the time share industry concentrated on four functional areas -- operations, production, customer service and marketing/ business development. For the marketing department, the most important measure dealt with pitch-rate conversion of weekly unit purchases – sales call to sales close ratio; the objective was to improve from one-in-seven prospect closes to one-in-six. This key measure was their North Star metric.
The North Star metric can be thought of as your Most Important Thing (MIT). For Hubspot, this is providing abundant killer content for Marketer Marys and Owner Ollies in the B2B marketspace. For Go Daddy, its MIT is website service usage by small and mid-sized businesses. What is the one true metric that is the basis for your business success (or failure)?                         
Ellis, S. (2017). What is a North Star metric?, June 5, https://growthhackers.com/articles/north-star-metric/  
            Barlow, B. (2017). What, why, how: the North Star metric, September 22, 
https://beintheknow.co/north-star-metric/


This blog post is the 10th in a series extracted from Superior Customer Value – Finding and Keeping Customers in the Now Economy, 4th Ed. (2019, Routledge Publishing/ Taylor & Francis). For further information, contact Art Weinstein at artweinstein9@gmail.com , 954-309-0901, www.artweinstein.com .    


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Value of Analytics in Customer Value by Maria Petrescu * [108]


Source: digitalerra.com
Did you ever wonder what is the value that consumers are getting from your company’s products and services? Your customers are surely analyzing, consciously or not, the value they are receiving when interacting with a business. Organizations who do not try to find answers to these questions are not going to be able to differentiate themselves and offer superior value to customers. But if you are already working on constantly monitoring the value received and perceived by consumers then marketing analytics are a great source of help. 

Customer value analytics assumes the use of data science, technology, statistics and business processes to analyze customer response and perceptions and to understand the buying and consumption context. From this information, managers are able to draw conclusions about the customer experience and formulate strategies for improvement. 

For example, businesses can use marketing analytics to evaluate and monitor customer acquisition, customer needs, and customer profitability, to gain customer insights, and to build relationships. Analytics also help manage and improve customer lifetime value, as well as personalize the value offering for consumers in order to increase loyalty. Marketing analytics can be used in different stages of the customer value management process.
  • Customer acquisition - prospective customer behavior, customer needs, lead management
  • Customer profitability - sales, registrations, sales discounts use 
  • Customer loyalty - loyalty offer use, loyalty card data, online account use 
  • Customer engagement - complaint behavior, online interaction, word-of-mouth
In the customer acquisition phase, there are various software and analytics platforms that are being employed for lead management (such as Salesforce), to analyze prospective customer behavior offline and online (including Google Analytics), and to assess customer needs through market research. 

In the next stage, after the customer acquisition, analytics can be used to evaluate existing traditional data, including scanner data and the sales database, as well as more modern marketing promotions and analytics insights coming from the interaction with consumers online and through sales promotions. This can also contribute to an increase in customer loyalty and to further consumer insights from loyalty management analytics and digital behavior, including email management, web traffic, and pull marketing (e.g. various platforms such as Hubspot, Hootsuite, ConstantContact).  

Nevertheless, an important part often ignored by marketers in the evaluation and monitoring of customer value is related to customer engagement and especially the feedback offered by buyers on the digital platform. Because of the difficulty and the skills required in the analysis of qualitative data such as consumer complaints, reviews, recommendations, and shares, methods such as sentiment analysis, social network analysis, and quantitative analysis of qualitative data are often overlooked. In this case, simple software options such as Tableau, MAXQDA, MonkeyLearn, and Adobe Analytics can help. No matter which analytical tool is employed, the insights about consumers’ perception of value are essential. 

* Maria Petrescu, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Marketing at ICN Business School Artem, Nancy, France and Colorado State University, Global Campus. Her main research areas include marketing analytics and digital marketing. Dr. Petrescu has published articles in journals such as Psychology & Marketing, the Journal of Marketing Management, Public Management Review, Journal of Product and Brand Management, the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, and the Journal of Internet Commerce.  She may be reached at Maria.petrescu@csuglobal.edu     

Further Reading
Iacobucci, D., Petrescu, M., Krishen, A., and Bendixen, M. (2019). The state of marketing analytics in research and practice. Journal of Marketing Analytics, 7: 152. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41270-019-00059-2 

Petrescu, M. & Krishen, A.S. (2018). Novel retail technologies and marketing analytics. Journal of Marketing Analytics, 6: 69. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41270-018-0040-z







 





















Friday, October 25, 2019

Experiential Retailing - Can It Help Offline Stores? by John Gironda * [107]




                         Image source: Tim Nichols (2014) – “Experiential Marketing on The High Street” (ExactDrive™).


 
The growth of online shopping has led many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to create and emphasize unique in-store shopping activities and experiences as a way to compete with online retailers. This is known as experiential retailing, and the idea behind this trend is that the one thing online retailers can’t offer is the in-store experience. Therefore, if offline stores can develop truly interesting, entertaining, and/or one-of-a-kind shopping activities/experiences, that would be one way to effectively compete.

There are a number of examples of companies engaging in experiential retailing. For instance, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World superstores feature a number of attractions that make each store a unique destination, such as indoor waterfalls, gigantic aquariums, archery ranges, and ponds with fish native to the store’s area. In addition, the stores hold a number of demonstrations and workshops that teach customers a variety of skills related to outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, fishing, and water safety. Another outdoor recreation company, REI offers climbing walls at some of its stores, for patrons to try out and practice their rock climbing skills. In addition, Dick’s Sporting Goods offers a golf simulator for shoppers to try out any of their golf clubs on a number of virtual holes before purchasing them. On the simulator, the customer hits an actual golf ball and then a large projection screen shows the flight of the ball through the air, as well as where it lands. In addition to displaying this, the simulator also provides a number of useful metrics, such as ball distance, speed, launch angle, and spin, to further help customers decide if the club they’re using is the right one for them. 

Sporting goods and outdoor oriented stores aren’t the only ones engaging in experiential retailing. Many other brick-and-mortar retailers are starting to use technology to create a personalized shopping experience for customers. For example, many companies such as Target offer mobile apps that allow shoppers to see if an item is available at a particular store, and if so tell them the exact location of that item within that store. In addition, other retailers including Timberland, are beginning to employ the use of augmented reality systems in their offline stores, to allow customers to virtually try on clothing and accessories, as well as instantly mix and match various combinations of shirts, pants, shoes, etc. www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TZmQPdhpak.  Neiman Marcus has also developed the “Memory Mirror” shopping assistant, which allows shoppers trying on various items to view them on a large video screen from any angle, as well as instantly change an items color, or see the way different outfits look in side-by-side comparisons: www.youtube.com/watch?v=B97k394jetk

Since many of these retailers’ items can be purchased online, companies are hoping that by offering these extra experiences, it will encourage consumers to go and shop at their physical stores. Obviously online shopping is here to stay and will most likely continue to keep growing well into the future. However, experiential retailing does show promise in helping offline retailers to still have a relevant place in consumers’ shopping habits.

What do you think of experiential retailing? Do you think it’s a viable technique for allowing offline stores to better compete with online shopping? Are there any other examples of experiential retailing that you’ve recently seen in action? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

John Gironda, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Nova Southeastern University. His teaching and research interests include digital and social media marketing, consumer behavior, marketing strategy, advertising, personal selling, and sales management. He can be reached at: jgironda@nova.edu


Customer Ownership - Understanding the True Value of a Relationship by Ricky Fergurson * [106]




In the rapidly changing landscape of B2B sales, factors such as technology, competitive intensity, and rising sales support costs oblige greater attention to customer relationships. Many companies that have an enterprise focus struggle with the concept of “owning the customer” (Weeks 2016). Given that customers are buying in different ways, firms are driven to engage customers differently. According to Cooper (2016), “customer ownership is all about creating, delivering and communicating compelling value”. In nurturing and developing customers through the B2B life cycle, multiple departments and functional units in the firm are entwined in customer relationship management (CRM). The complexity of CRM and dynamism in customers’ relationship expectations require that sales, marketing, service, and support work together through the customer buying and fulfillment process. The diffusion of tasks and responsibilities exposes a fundamental CRM gap: who truly owns the customer? A recent American Marketing Association Marketing News article referred to customer ownership as “the age-old battle between marketing and sales” (Qaqish 2018). The idea of who ‘owns’ the customer relationship may become ambiguous.  So, what does it mean to own a customer relationship?

Customer ownership is defined as building a level of rapport, commitment, and trust with a customer that increases dependency. The question becomes “does this dependency by the customer reside with the salesperson who they deal with regularly or with the company they purchase from?” Anecdotally consider this situation, the salesperson who you normally deal with leaves to go to another company with similar and substitutable products. Do you continue buying the same product from a different salesperson or do you buy a different product from the same salesperson you have always dealt with? 

In B2B channels, most firms entrust front-line responsibilities to salespeople. Thus, the majority of customer interface occurs between salespeople and the customer which enhances the salesperson-customer bond. A convergence of personal and social forces emanates from the salesperson as well as the firm, so who owns the customer relationship, the firm or the salesperson? Gaining clarity on who owns the customer relationship is critical to maximizing customer satisfaction and the firms’ ability to develop and execute a growth strategy with the customer.

References
Cooper, D. (2016, November 22). Customer 'ownership? is about delivering 3 kinds of Value. - The Donald Cooper Corporation. Retrieved from https://www.donaldcooper.com/customer-ownership-delivering-3-kinds-value/
Qaqish, D. (2018, April 17). Who Owns the Customer Journey? AMA Marketing News. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/ama-marketing-news/who-owns-the-customer-journey-53a2f271de25
Weeks, T. (2016, October 11). The Question of Customer Ownership. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/question-customer-ownership-tom-weeks/

* Ricky Fergurson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Indiana State University. He can be contacted at ricky.fergurson@indstate.edu



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