As marketers and brand builders strive to understand the markets they serve by creating segmented offerings, campaigns aimed at attracting the high-net-worth customer, the affluent-mass and the youth, are they not forgetting that great brands attract everyone. With great brands, the experiences they create are experiences that appeal to everyone, always trusted and always relevant? Especially in the Banking sector?
As many readers who follow my blog will know, I am a segmentation sceptic. Whilst there is a space for segments in helping businesses to understand the markets they serve, and to help them focus on the customers they serve, I cannot help but think that these categorisations are too broad and not personalised enough. It will come as no surprise to learn that I am a big believer in the power of people inspired experiences as a way to flatten the service model to a point where every customer receives a premium service, where simplicity, personalisation and relevancy is the name of the game.
Whilst broad-brush segmentation is a concept that is designed by marketers who are desperately trying to make sense of an ever diverse world, the needs of the individual are becoming more and more important and customers do not want to be fitted into a box that is defined by rigid hypothetical criteria.
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The only way I see the future is where each and every brand experience is personal and relevant to each and every individual. This is the definition of great branding.
Whilst working recently with one of the large consulting companies I was fortunate enough to meet and learn from a truly talented man, who was responsible for implementing analytics with propensity in a bank in the Middle East. Where customer behaviours are analysed, understood and then used to create micro-segments based on individuals propensity to engage with a message, product or service - based on the behaviours of other similar individuals. This man and his work talk precisely to my belief that if brands are to survive in an ever-changing and dynamic world, organisations need to invest in learning more about their customers and using this information to deliver experiences that are meaningful and personal for the individual, not the segment. I have seen the results of this work and they are staggering. Customers feel like their brand understands them, supports them and delivers relevant experiences that are engaging. From a business perspective, the guesswork is taken out of all marketing activities. By understanding your customer better, you know what they want, when they want it and how they would like to consume it. Businesses are able to offer advice based on genuine need - the need of the individual, and not the segment safe in the knowledge that there is a greater propensity for engagement that in the 'hit-and-miss' world of broad-brush segmentation - information that also helps to redefine business models.
So what can brands do to create super-appeal? We do not have to look far to see some examples of companies who have achieved super-appeal. Firstly, let’s look at a not so obvious one the car brand Bentley. For years, a brand that appealed to what we like to call ‘old money’. A Bentley was a car driven by the establishment and generally older people - the Bentley brand was rooted in its segment. Then came the new 'Continental'. This car changed everything. Bentley focused on building the best possible car to appeal to every generation, a careful and delicate balance of the brand DNA and heritage that made Bentley what it was, combined with a clinical understanding of the 'new world' and the new Bentley customer.
In creating the 'Continental', Bentley created a canvas that, although the brand and product still remained exclusive and the preserve of the wealthy, it was a canvas for self-expression. Personalisation, detailing, finishes, specifications were all flexible - making this a vehicle that no longer was reserved for the broad-brush segment of the old establishment but was a great car and great cars have mass appeal. Why, because they appeal to the ‘cool’ in all of us.
So, what tips can I give brand builders when they are developing their product offering:
Forget about broad-brush segmentation - design the world’s best experience in every way
Be sure your offering does what it says on the tin and a little more
Delight and surprise your customers
Get personal and listen
Be prepared for the unexpected - when you get it right, your customers will grow beyond your traditional broad-brush segment
Constantly change and innovate
About the Author
Nicholas Griffin is Managing Director at Principle Global (www.principleglobal.com) Information on how to contact Nick is in the footer of this web site.