In The Age Of The Customer, Superior Customer Experience Differentiates Retail Brand Leaders

Tracy Stokes

In “Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer,” Forrester shows that “in a world where empowered customers are disrupting every industry . . . the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge and engagement with customers.” This is not about mere customer centricity. This is about customer obsession. 

This customer obsession is particularly crucial in the world of big-box and online retail. With so much pricing and product information available at customers’ fingertips — at home and in the store — retailers are highly vulnerable to price undercutting and switching. Big-box retailers compete fiercely on price, and providing good value is a customer requirement. But our research shows that to be a leading retail brand, retail marketers must differentiate through the promise and delivery of superior customer experience. 

In May 2013, Forrester conducted Consumer Technographics® research with 4,575 US online adults to uncover the drivers of a successful 21st century big-box retail brand. This research is part of Forrester’s TRUE brand compass framework designed to identify which brands are winning the battle for consumer mindshare and to help marketers build a brand that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential (TRUE). This framework has two core components:

  1. The TRUE brand compass ranking gives a snapshot of a brand’s resonance — the emotional connection a customer has with a brand. Is your brand a trailblazer — winning consumer mindshare — or astray — lost its way and connection to consumers? 
  2. The TRUE brand compass scorecard reveals a brand’s progress along the four dimensions. Is your brand strong on being trusted? Weak on being essential?
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Financial Service Brands Fail To Win Baby Boomers' Trust

Tracy Stokes

The financial market is slowly recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, and J.D. Power and Associates found a significant improvement in retail bank customer satisfaction in 2013. But Forrester’s own research shows that brand confidence lags behind as financial service marketers fail to win back customer trust, particularly among the all-important Baby Boomers. 

In May 2013, Forrester conducted Consumer Technographics® research with 4,575 US online adults to uncover the drivers of a successful 21st century financial services brand. This research is part of Forrester’s TRUE brand compass framework designed to identify which brands are winning the battle for consumer mindshare and to help marketers build a brand that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential (TRUE). This framework has two core components:

  1. The TRUE brand compass ranking gives a snapshot of a brand’s resonance — the emotional connection a customer has with a brand. Is your brand a trailblazer — winning consumer mindshare — or astray — lost its way and connection to consumers? 
  2. The TRUE brand compass scorecard reveals a brand’s progress along the four dimensions. Is your brand strong on being trusted? Weak on being essential?
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How's That Move From The Funnel To The Customer Life Cycle Going?

Corinne Munchbach

Earlier this year, I penned a break-up letter on behalf of CMOs to the marketing funnel. Though some chief marketers initially were a little reluctant to follow through, in new research published today, we see that the vast majority of marketers recognize that the customer life cycle (CLC) is their partner of the future. In "The State Of Customer Life Cycle Marketing, 2013," (subscription required), we share the results from our July 2013 North American Customer Life-Cycle Marketing Online Survey of 80 senior marketers, a highlight of which is that marketers are overwhelmingly picking the CLC for all their customer-obsessed marketing activities (see figure).

In addition to getting a pulse on where companies are in their transition to a customer-first approach to marketing, we also used our assessment (subscription required) to benchmark performance on the five key dimensions of customer life-cycle marketing: strategy, organization, data and analytics, measurement, and technology. We find that:

  • Very few marketers can be considered leaders today. Only 13% of respondents can be considered leaders, and they have aligned strategy, organization, and data to drive their success. Laggards, those with the most to work on, make up 41% of the respondents, while aspirers were the vast majority, with 46% of respondents moving actively toward customer obsession.
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A Glimpse of the Future . . . Why Technology Matters To CMOs and Marketing Leaders Now More Than Ever

Sheryl Pattek

I was fortunate to participate in a recent Forbes CMO Network invitation only event designed to explore how technology is presenting new ways for CMOs to think about, plan, and execute their marketing strategies.

The event, “Funding the Next Wave of Digital Disruption: An Insider’s View of the New Companies & Technologies Transforming Marketing,” hosted at the offices of leading venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) provided a unique insider’s view of the newest cutting-edge companies and technologies coming out of Silicon Valley.

I left the event with an even stronger belief that marketing and technology are forever intertwined. And, as highlighted in my "The CMO’s Role In Technology Purchasing" report (subscription required), it’s time to ramp up your technology IQ now or risk being left behind. Why now?

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Kindle Fire HDX Builds An Unprecedented Digital Customer Relationship For Amazon

James McQuivey

Watching Amazon.com cut the prices of last year’s Kindle Fire devices shortly after they debuted, you may have concluded that Amazon’s tablets weren’t performing well. You may have further speculated, as I did earlier this year, that maybe Amazon didn’t need to commit to the tablet strategy. After all, Amazon has a great relationship with its customers whether they’re on PCs, mobile devices, or iPads. You (and I) would be wrong. Today Amazon doubled down on a tablet strategy, announcing three new devices for sale later this year. A new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD (starting at $139), a 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX (from $229), and an ultra-skinny 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX (from $379). In one fell swoop, Amazon:

  1. Commits to tablets as a way of committing to customers. Yes, tens of millions of people already have iPads, but another 40 million people in the US will get their first tablet between now and the end of 2016. And chances are very, very good that Amazon has a credit card on file with most all of them.
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Will Celebrity Star Power Help Build Your Brand?

Tracy Stokes
The power of celebrity is like catnip for marketers. Celebrity or athletic association adds an aspirational edge through outright paid endorsement or coveted “as seen on” editorial placement. In the world of beauty, brands from Cover Girl to L’Oreal add a sheen of glamour to their brands through celebrity spokesmodels. In the field of sports marketing, brands from Nike to Gatorade borrow equity from high-powered athletes to bolster their athletic credentials. And in retail, mass retailers from Macy’s to Sears offer eponymous product lines from celebrities as diverse as Sean Combs to the ubiquitous Kardashians. Q scores are tracked, contracts are negotiated, and millions of dollars exchange hands.  But is it worth it?  
 
If you ask consumers how important celebrity endorsement is to their brand selection, most will vehemently deny it. In fact, our North American Consumer Technographics® data shows that only 19% of consumers rate celebrity or athlete endorsement as important when picking a brand. But most people will probably tell you that advertising doesn’t affect them either. So we decided to dig a little deeper. Forrester conducted a driver analysis in the big-box retail category to identify which category attributes and behaviors have the most meaningful impact on key outcomes like being a more trusted or essential brand. Our research showed that in big-box retail, celebrity or athletic endorsement:
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Thought Leadership: Hot Topic At CS Forum Helsinki 2013?

Laura Ramos

CS Forum Helsinki 2013 is officially underway in lovely Finland. While I would have loved to be there (and the organizers did their best to try to lure me), the journey from California to Scandinavia is a bit daunting without a broader agenda in Europe. Lucky for me, Stacey Gordon, founder and president of Suite Seven, will be there presenting the Content Strategy of Thought Leadership. Not surprisingly, strategy, thought leadership, and storytelling feature highly in the "content as business value" section of the event.

Stacey and I caught up last week, and she peppered me with some interesting questions about the business value of thought leadership, how to organize/staff around thought leadership, and what are the leadership/governance models that work. We thought it would be fun to write up our chat in the form of a (rather lengthy) Q&A, shared with you below.

Reading through it, I think it's important to approach thought leadership as an organization, and not just a marketing activity or program. True thought leadership happens when the market talks back, and you get to exchange valuable insight with other leading thinkers on the topic. Kinda like Stacey and I do here.  

If you happen to be in Helsinki at CS Forum, you can catch Stacey's presentation on Friday, September 13, right after the coffee break at 11:20 a.m. Best of luck to Stacey and the other speakers at CS Forum!

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What Can WWE's John Cena Teach You About Brand Building?

Tracy Stokes
Source: WWE/superstars/johncena
Earlier this summer, I attended an Experian marketing conference in Las Vegas, where I was rather surprised to see WWE champ John Cena on the agenda. Intrigued, I stuck around for his late afternoon session to see what he had to say. I’m glad I did. It turns out John Cena is a great brand builder. This Massachusetts-born native is a $100 million brand with 5.3 million Twitter followers and more than 15 million Facebook fans — just behind Kobe Bryant at 16 million. What’s his secret? Here are three brand-building lessons from John Cena: 
  • Be customer-obsessed. Forrester believes that in the 21st century, the single source of competitive advantage is to be customer-obsessed. Cena gets this. He understands that his brand is only as strong as his relationship with his fans. And he takes that responsibility seriously. Cena claims you won’t find pictures of him at a Miami club, surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad women. His tweets depict his clean-cut image and are PG-appropriate. 
  • Guide your journey with a clear North Star. Leading brands guide their brand, messaging, products, and organization by the light of their North Star — that core brand essence. Oreo’s North Star is to “celebrate childhood.” Cena guides his career with the mantra “hustle, loyalty, and respect.”
  • Build a trusted brand. Cena is trusted by his fans because he is authentic and passionate about who he is and what he does. As he commented, “you have to be authentic, even when you are falling down in a fake fight in a fake universe.”  
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B2B Marketing Measurement Needs To Sharpen Its Business Acumen

Laura Ramos
"Marketing measures its performance to prove its value, not to improve it."
 
Let's face it -- marketing is often accused of poorly demonstrating it impact on the business in terms that business executives understand and appreciate. Even though advances in marketing automation and digital channels make it easier to track activity and results, this reputation persists and keeps many B2B CMOs from commanding a strategic seat at the leadership table.
 
Yet B2B CMOs can't continue to rely on measures like brand awareness, trade show scans, or website traffic to demonstrate the benefit their departments deliver. Those who do will be shown to the door as CEOs and CFOs raise the bar on accountability -- and getting the right attention here is a substantial challenge when so few execs rely on marketing data in their decision making (see figure to the right.)
 
In May, Forrester teamed up with the IT Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) and VisionEdge Marketing (VEM) to survey marketing leaders about how they demonstrate marketing's impact on the business.  About a week ago I (finally) published Forrester's take on this important survey (subscription required).
 
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It's Game Time: Introducing The Customer Life Cycle Marketing Playbook For CMOs

Corinne Munchbach

I love September. American and European football are back, allowing me to spend a large (but who’s counting?) amount of time watching uniform-clad fellows run around across expanses of green in front of raucous crowds. Soccer in particular has an unparalleled beauty to it: an exquisite orchestration of movement and ingenuity that, at least to my mind, no other sport can match. The brains behind the on-field talent are the team managers, who understand formations and strategies and how to measure results beyond wins and losses.

Soccer managers have a lot in common with today’s CMOs. Both must understand how to succeed in a global context, deploy a diverse set of skills to greatest effect, and create an experience for fans that sets them apart from the crowd. Luckily for CMOs, today they get their very own playbook! I’m thrilled to announce the launch of the Customer Life Cycle Marketing Playbook (subscription required), designed to help chief marketing officers transform their organizations to become customer-obsessed, a requirement for competitive success in the age of the customer. By changing the game from the marketing funnel to creating and activating a customer-life-cycle-driven marketing strategy, CMOs will deliver value that is visible to the customer and position the brand for long-term success. We've organized the playbook to help CMOs:

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