Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Who Knows Our Customer Better...

than our customer?

As I have shared on more than one occasion, I am called upon from time to time to offer feedback/consultation to brands both big and small.  And with sales continuing to drop, and brands scrambling to try and find something to offer their customers that might stimulate them to actually buy something I was brought back to something I read several years ago in the FYMW book -

Shamelessly borrowed from Amazon
It was actually a riff on what an "in touch" fashion brand owner might say in the form of a memo to his staff.  A lot of it is very tongue in cheek, but one thing that the fictional fashion brand owner asked really struck a nerve with me:

"Who knows our customers better than our customers?"

And this is clearly a question that watch brands are NOT asking. 

Think about it this way, in virtually every other industry companies enlist the help of focus groups to gather information and valuable feedback on what might be the best way forward with a new product.  When I lived in San Francisco I was an active member of the "Focus Group Circuit".  It was great!  Generally once or twice a week you could go and participate.  You were fed either lunch or dinner, and paid $100 in cash for 1 hour of your time.  And I can honestly say that of the 20 or more focus groups I participated in, only about 3 of those potential new ideas ever made it to market.

Now consider some of the many watches that just did not make it, that just weren't ready for prime time.  Watches so unpopular and so unloved that they had to be stripped for their guts.  Or some that simply had to be dumped in bulk on the grey market.  It is very hard to be objective about what the buying public wants when you are the one making and promoting it.  So maybe it is time to start looking at what sold, and ask some probing questions of the people who actually bought it.  You know, crazy questions like - why did you buy this?  What did you like about it?  Do you still like it?  Why?  Why not?

I realize that this is an over simplification, but I do begin to wonder more and more how much the decisions a brand makes are driven by what they think their customers may want, as opposed to what people within the brand want.  A focus group, even after the sale has been made, will go a long way to informing future decisions - hopefully for the better.

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