Predictions 2017: The Year Of Action

Cliff Condon

Your business model is under attack. And it’s not by your competitors. It’s under attack from your customers. Three years ago, Forrester identified a major shift in the market, ushering in the age of the customer. Power has shifted away from companies and towards digitally savvy, technology-empowered customers. They now decide winners and losers: Our Empowered Customer Segmentation shows that more than a third all US online adults want new and engaging digital experiences. They will switch companies to find these experiences. In this environment, being customer-obsessed can be your only competitive strategy.   

In Forrester’s 2017 Prediction Reports, we are tracking firms’ progress on their customer-obsessed journeys. In our annual collection of predictions, we look at business strategy, leadership, customer experience, and technology dynamics to examine progress and predict the key events, changes, and trends that will occur in 2017.

Here are three key findings from our 16 predictions reports:

  • The next wave of Customer Experience will have a profound impact on firms’ P&L: The shift to a customer-led market represents an immediate and prolonged threat to company survival. Our research shows a clear correlation between the quality of customer experiences and revenue growth; it also affirms that emotion is a core driver of customer loyalty and spending. The next wave of CX will connect these dots, blending analytics, technology, and design to evoke emotions to drive affinity and directly impact revenue.
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Transparency Is The New Black At Delta Airlines And Everlane

Dipanjan Chatterjee

Transparency In A New Light

Brand practitioners generally talk about transparency only when crisis hits the fan. There are text book examples of how to do it right, like Johnson & Johnson's deft management of the 1982 Tylenol poisoning episodes in Chicago. And then there are recent debacles: VW’s drawn-out admission of guilt, Samsung's self-combustion, and the Wells Fargo CEO's cringe-worthy testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. Reputation experts will tell you that transparency is the perfect antidote to crisis. But I'm here to tell you that transparency is not just for crisis control. It's fast becoming the new normal. In what Forrester has called the Age Of The Customer, a significant shift has occurred - away from institutions, and toward customers.  This shift not only armed the consumer with much more information, but also created an expectation that brands share information more readily – information that may otherwise sit behind opaque corporate screens. Most of the brands are not there yet; many are still adjusting, often uncomfortably, to the vanishing asymmetry of information between brand and consumer. 

For progressive CMOs, this lag between consumer expectation and brand delivery presents an opportunity to differentiate the brand. Proactively trumpeting transparent brands and giving customers the tools to benefit from this transparency can be a game changer and a source of advantage. Everlane, an online retailer of clothes and accessories, and Delta Airlines provide excellent examples of how to do this right.  

Two Case Studies in Transparency

Everlane 

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What You Missed At The B2B Marketing Forum — If You Weren't There

Peter O'Neill

Wow! It may have taken place seven days ago, but I am still exhausted — and exhilarated — from our inaugural B2B Marketing Forumin Miami last week. Here is a short recap of what we covered during the two days. And you can even watch this video of me opening the event (20 minutes of your time).

Day 1: Obsess On Customers; Orchestrate A Relationship; Conduct An Engagement

The opening main session began with Forrester’s James McQuivey, who inspired us all to understand both how to understand customer obsession and how to drive the necessary organizational, process, and even cultural change. Molly Murphy, from Eaton Industries, presented a best practice example of doing exactly that in her marketing organization. Forrester’s own Laura Ramos then explained how an account-based marketing strategy enables a full commitment to customer obsession in both marketing and sales. Amanda Kahlow, CEO and founder of analytics vendor 6Sense, rounded off this topic by telling her very personal story.

Then we broke out into the first of three repeated track agendas (so that all could attend each session of interest and not make sacrifices because sessions were competing):

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Speed Dating In Miami — Or What I Learned At The Forrester B2B Marketing Forum

Steven Casey

Now that I’m back from Forrester's B2B Marketing Forum in Miami last week, I thought I’d share a few observations. This was my second Forrester event as an analyst, but my first at a B2B Marketing Forum. 

It’s worth noting that my perspective as an analyst is completely different from that of an attendee, because so much of our time is consumed by one-on-one meetings. This means that I didn’t see much of the mainstage proceedings other than the first-day opening and part of one presentation over a hurried lunch on the second day.

If you’ve never been, a big part of the value of Forrester's events for attendees is these one-on-ones, which provide various opportunities: to sit down across the table from analysts with whom you may speak regularly but have never met face-to-face, to make first-time introductions, or to simply reconnect with old friends. The one-on-ones are set up speed-dating style — 20-minute conversations scheduled on the half-hour, starting at breakfast and stretching throughout both days of the conference. And maybe I’m bad at time management or just get caught up in interesting conversations, but just about all of my meetings ran into each other. So it was a whirlwind experience, exciting and exhausting at the same time.

I did my best to take notes, and here’s a few of the major themes I observed, based on my interactions with dozens of B2B marketers throughout the entire event:

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Media Agencies Must Provide Value Beyond Buying

Sarah Sikowitz

Changes in consumer behavior and technology are driving seismic shifts in media buying. Marketers are feeling this acutely as they reach out to media agency partners for strategic support and solutions. At the same time, media agencies are struggling to carve out ways to differentiate — broadening capabilities and moving into new marketing realms. 

The result: a crowded market where it’s difficult to identify which agency partners can strategically engage customers through paid media.

In our Vendor Landscape: Media Buying Agencies (subscription required), we surveyed marketers and over 40 agencies and found an environment where efficient buying is table stakes.

Marketers want media agencies to provide value beyond planning and buying with:

  • Data-driven strategies
  • Cross-channel measurement
  • Creative ideas
  • Unprecedented, but necessary, transparency

Marketers should read this report to understand how media agencies are evolving and what to prioritize in the agency selection process.

I am currently taking inquiries and offering advisory on this topic.  Please reach out to learn more or share your experience in media agency selection.

Account-Based Marketing Will Elevate, Not Eclipse, Lead-To-Revenue Management

Lori Wizdo

The explosion of interest in account-based marketing has created uncertainty for business-to-business (B2B) marketers who have invested in marketing automation to optimize their lead-to-revenue processes. It’s not surprising because the vendors that market ABM-badged wares – and many pundits -- generate attention with controversial proclamations, like: “ABM is the death of demand generation”; “ABM replaces inbound marketing” and “Lead to Revenue Management (L2RM) is only a suitable strategy for selling products and services to small businesses”.  

While these arguments might help hawk new technology, they create confusion about both ABM and L2RM. It’s not surprising that 73% of B2B survey respondents agree that, as an industry term, ABM lacks specificity and gets applied to many different approaches inconsistently.  In my most recent report, Account-Based Marketing Will Elevate, Not Eclipse, Lead-To-Revenue Management (subscription required), I set out to rationalize the concepts of ABM and L2RM.  

Key takeaways:

  • B2B marketers should use ABM to accelerate the pivot to customer obsession.
  • B2B marketers need to decompose ABM into its component parts: strategy, tactics and technology.
  • Forrester's Go-To-Customer Strategy Matrix helps B2B marketers fine-tune their ABM strategy.
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The Data Digest: Metropolitan Chinese And Metropolitan Indian Customers Lead The Demand For Business Transformation

Anjali Lai

Consumers in Asia Pacific are in the midst of a digital transformation. Within the past decade, online penetration in China grew from 8% to 54%, while mobile internet access grew more than sevenfold. Today, the rate of customer evolution is gaining speed, as consumers are increasingly willing to experiment with new products, rely on devices, demand seamless digital experiences, consume large volumes of information, and are committed to seeking out the best experiences for themselves.

Forrester’s Empowered Customer Segmentation measures these key shifts in customer behaviors and attitudes and anticipates how consumers both respond to digital innovation and demand it. An analysis of our Consumer Technographics® data for Asia Pacific shows that the most rapidly evolving customers dominate in metropolitan China and metropolitan India:

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September of Sapphire: How The New Chase Credit Card Became An Overnight Sensation

Dipanjan Chatterjee

Ben Schlappig doesn’t have a home. He lives on planes and in hotel rooms. And he’s a big reason why Chase’s new credit card has generated unprecedented hysteria.

The credit card business is not where you go to get a brand fix. Most of the brands in this category tread water in the sea of sameness, inspiring little passion and much aggravation by inundating mailboxes with junk mail. And then there's the new Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • The card was so wildly popular that, upon launch, Chase ran through 12 months of metal stock in three weeks.
  • Unboxing videos popped up all over YouTube, clocking tens of thousands of views (yes you read that right, the nail-biting action of a credit card reveal).  
  • Chase reported an unexpectedly large number of applications from millennials, a group that so far has been generally indifferent about card brands.
  • Bloomberg Business Week put the new Chase Sapphire Reserve on its cover.

Here’s why this should have never happened:

  • As an extension of the existing Sapphire franchise, there was a fairly docile product extension
  • At a $450 annual fee, it severely limited relevance in a category awash with no-fee cards
  • The card sweetened, but did not fundamentally alter the basic formula of perks and points. Nothing earth-shatteringly innovative here.
  • Advertising and promotion leading up to the launch? Zero.
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Showrooming drives online sales in Europe

Michael O'Grady

Retailers are increasingly reconfiguring their physical stores to support the multichannel shopper. Our Forrester Data: Showrooming Forecast, 2016 to 2021(EU-7) shows that three-quarters of EU-7 online sales, worth 126 billion euros in 2015 are impacted by offline research. Reverse-showrooming, where shoppers buy at a physical store following online research, is even more commonplace. Price is the overriding factor that drives showrooming behaviour. Our report analyses the factors that contribute to offline influence and its implications for multi-channel retailers:

  • Offline influence dominates the retail landscape. In 2015, more than 95% of retail sales in EU-7 either occurred offline or occurred online and were influenced by offline research. This figure is more than double the share of sales that occurred online or that occurred offline and were influenced by online research.
  • Declining foot traffic and high-street spending threatens in-store influence. In-store visits and sales advice from an in-store sales associate are key drivers of offline influence. In 2015, foot traffic in physical stores fell across UK, Germany and France and visits to UK high-street stores declined.
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Google's Next Play: Your Assistant For Everything - Not Just Answers

Julie Ask

This blog post is co-authored by VP and Principal Analyst Michael Facemire and Analyst Andrew Hogan at Forrester.

Google held an event in San Francisco this week to announce several new consumer products – a smartphone, a wireless speaker, Wi-Fi routers, a virtual reality headset and an updated Chromecast solution. All showcased an emerging strategic direction for Google and some killer engineering and design skills.

None of it impressed as much as the demos of Google Assistant – Google’s virtual assistant.

What is a virtual assistant, you ask? A virtual assistant is another name for an intelligent (personal) assistant. Virtual assistants orchestrate agents or services from third parties on behalf of consumers. Bots are one form of an agent. Virtual assistants rely on context (e.g., user input, localization capabilities, and access to information from a variety of data sources) to refine the quality of responses to a user’s requests. These assistants guess, but the guesses get better over time. “Virtual” implies that the service is digital and not performed by a human you’ve hired.

Google Assistant is a natural extension of Google’s path towards becoming the agent that sits between brands and their customers. The “holy grail” of becoming a consumer’s primary virtual assistant will be hard for Google to obtain, but holds unprecedented business value. Google is not alone in this race – Amazon, Apple and Facebook in the U.S. also have their sights set on being the trusted assistant for consumers.

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