Last updated: Close the gaps in your customer engagement: Go direct!

Close the gaps in your customer engagement: Go direct!


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The consumer products (CP) industry has seen an unprecedented power shift in recent years, from retailers – the traditional owners of consumer access, experience, and relationships – directly to consumers. What has enabled this shift?

Consumers now have more access to information and to each other than at any other point in history. There are approximately 2.4 billion Internet users in 2015, and Internet adoption rates continue to accelerate globally. More than 900 million of those users have come online since 2009, with the fastest gains in emerging markets.

There are now over 1.5 billion smartphone users globally, and smartphone penetration is growing 31% year-over-year with no signs of slowing. For many – especially in emerging markets – smartphones are becoming the primary means of going online. Smartphone proliferation is just one piece of the mobile opportunity. Customer adoption of the iPad 1 in the first 12 months it was available was three times greater than for the iPhone during its first year on the market.

In the developed world, it seems that everyone is now connected. With this ubiquitous access and mobility, people are better connected to a wider range of information, and increasingly in touch with one another. There are now more than 1.1 billion users on Facebook. It is estimated that 60% of those users login daily, 68 percent use a mobile device, and the average user has more than 200 friends and connections.

Consumer Products (CP) companies have a spectacular opportunity to build stronger relationships with their consumers by engaging them directly online.

However, with great opportunity also comes challenge. Many CP companies have gaps that exist between what their consumers want, versus what they actually deliver.

The three primary symptoms of these gaps are:

  • Lack of collaboration – Much is written about how marketing and IT do not get along. In today’s digital world, marketing and IT are becoming one and the same. Digital marketing is all about information technology, and information technology is all about the consumer experience.
  • Lack of insight – do marketers adequately understand their consumers? They love to put consumers into buckets, run segmentation exercises, and determine that one customer fits into “this” category, and another consumer fits into “that” category. The truth is that each consumer is many things. One day, she’s a business traveler. The next day, she is a family traveler and, in two weeks, she hopes to be a romantic traveler. Rather than dropping a customer into a single bucket, the wise marketer continuously asks and listens, and makes every message contextual to what the potential buyer is doing right now.
  • Siloed, messy data, and lack of integration – there are plenty of other reasons why gaps exist. Are any of these challenges and requirements insurmountable? Probably not. Can the engagement gap be bridged? Absolutely, when direct engagement is done correctly.

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