"The first step in achieving leadership in market perceived quality and value is to understand what causes customers in your targeted market to make their decisions. The simplest customer value analysis consists of two parts: first, you create a customer value profile that compares your organization's performance with that of competitors' second, you draw a customer value map" (Bradley.T.Gale, American management guru)
In a globalized world not only "Singh is King" but "Customer is King' too! In the new marketplace adding value and managing the customer through such value additions can well nigh spell the difference between the victor and the vanquished. This holds good for emerging markets in the south pacific too.
Students of management would be familiar with the 5 'P's of modern marketing (product, price, place, promotion and packaging).
Over the years, markets across the globe (including the pacific island markets) have become more competitive. Various factors have contributed to this. The 'P's of the marketing model too have evolved in keeping with the rapid changes in the markets. The 5 "P's as they are today are more focused on the Big C-the consumer.
PROBING: Today's customer is more willing than ever to loosen his purse strings but he isn't buying things just because "I can afford it". Today's customer is far more aware, informed and "savvy" compared to a generation past. Today's customer has discovered that high priced products are not necessarily the best. He has therefore started demanding "value for money".
Today everything boils down to adding value for the customer. The first step towards this value addition is to understand the customer - and, by extension, the market in which you operate. It is this intimate knowledge of the market, which can make or break the entire marketing value chain. This involves not only identifying broad customer needs but also understanding the finer nuances of a customer's needs. Only if this is done can the company add and deliver value through it's products or services.
Companies worldwide have for long been segmenting their customers into specific target groups based on similarities of age, sex, race, religion, demographics, product usage etc. However in today's market where traditional product loyalties are being broken, it is increasingly difficult to attract and retain customers. In such a scenario these traditional segments do not provide a "window into the customer's mind". Market segmentation today needs to incorporate more than mass behavioral patterns. For a "perfect fit" between the product and the customer, personality traits, psychological quirks, behavioral peculiarities, decision making process etc. need to be understood far more deeply than ever before.
A natural corollary to segmentation and adding value is identifying niches in a market. Once a niche is identified then you must target these niches by customizing your product to meet specific aspirations and needs of the target market.
Most marketers in the south pacific tend to lump all the markets together. What they fail to realize is that although scattered nature and small in size (on a global scale) these markets too have discerning consumers who demand fair value for their dollar and are willing and able to pay for products and services, which fulfill that need. Niche marketing is still in it's infancy in the islands and marketers would do well to exploit this in order to create a loyal customer base and add healthy numbers to the bottom line.
PRIORITIZING: "Please wait, you are in queue" a sweet voice at the other end of the line tells you. You may be a million dollar customer to the company you are calling into but you are made to wait just like a $100 customer! So much for customer service!
Today's corporations are increasing realizing that a huge chunk of their revenues come from a handful of customers. Hence they are awakening to the need of prioritizing their customers and are laying down the red carpet for the top contributors to their business.
POSITIONING: The correct positioning of the product in a customer offering is crucial to the commercial success of a product or service. The positioning of the product is based on a number of factors such as target market, the income levels, aspirations, need and ability to pay etc,. to name a few.
PROVOKING: Give the customer a compelling reason to behave the way you want him to. In other words provoke the customer to react or behave in a particular way based on what you are offering and your advertisements.
PENETRATION: In the early days the buzz was all about market share through market penetration i.e. making sure your product or service was available to the customer literally at his door step. This generally started with the urban areas. Once the urban market was saturated marketers hungry for growth turned to the rural areas. With rural areas also fast approaching saturation point the "vertical" market penetration model has started to fray at the edges.
Companies are now looking at market penetration from a totally new perspective-the horizontal one. Rather than search for "New Markets" Marketers are now recognizing the presence of "market within market" i.e. penetrating deeper into an existing customer. They are doing this by way of "bundled" offers. One can see this happening all around in the market but it has become a norm of sorts in New Zealand in the Telecommunications and consumer durables industry.