At the recent EDGE Alumni breakfast, hosted by ARN, the leading voice in customer centricity and digital transformation, Nancy Rademaker, spoke about how the changing profile of consumers – their changing tastes, behaviours and attitudes – is disrupting incumbent businesses.
“Customer characteristics have changed,” Rademaker said, as she outlined the acronym C.U.S.T.O.M.E.R, which highlights eight shifts in consumer perception and behaviour that businesses need to adapt to in order to retain their competitive edge.
“R” is for radical
The message is simple: When you get it wrong in public, you pay for it. Take for example, the reaction in April 2018 when video of a passenger being physically removed from a United Airlines flight went viral. The footage, which showed the passenger battered and bloody for refusing to give up his (paid for) seat on an overbooked flight, kicked off a global wave of anger at United, and led to it initially losing $US1 billion in its market cap before steadying at a loss of about $US250 million.
Combine some of the other traits of the modern customer – that they are more mindful, tribal, and ethical – and it brings us to the final characteristic: They are more radical, according to Rademaker said.
“Customers are now responding ruthlessly – they know they can kill a brand overnight,” she said.
An example of how the customer response to a product or event can escalate out of a brand’s control is “review bombing”. When a company does something a large community online doesn’t like, the group can use online review locations, such as Amazon, to leave a wave of negative reviews. Because online communities have become “tribal”, people who haven’t even used the product will also be whipped into action and leave a negative review.
There are times when this action isn’t either reasonable or justified. For example, the recent Captain Marvel film was review bombed by an anti-feminist movement because it had a woman protagonist. It shows the kind of risk management challenge brands now face in providing products to consumers, and interacting with them.
Organisations in any field – including the channel – need to develop a deep understanding of their core audience and, most importantly, they need to understand where the risks lie of triggering a widespread negative response within that audience.
That completes this eight-part series on the characteristics of the modern customer. Hopefully, Rademaker’s insights into what makes the modern customer tick, and the trends affecting the relationship between customer and brand, has been of interest.