Obsess About the Customers, Not Your Brands

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Obsess About the Customers, Not Your Brands

By April Miller - 08/07/2018

P2PX Keynote Address

“The New Digital Imperative: Customer-Obsession Through Data-Led Personalized Experiences”

  • Wednesday, Oct. 3, 8:30 a.m.
  • Brendan WitcherVP/Principal Analyst, Digital Business Strategy, Forrester

Forrester executive says it’s important to recognize the lifetime value of the customer over the immediate value


Shoppers have many choices, and they know it. Blue shirts, refrigerators, even groceries – there are a plethora of places where they can make a purchase. “There is no one journey for every customer, so it’s critically important that each individual touchpoint create value and is based on their needs and their moment of intent – why are they here today and what problem can I solve for them?” says Brendan Witcher, vice president/principal analyst, digital business strategy, Forrester.

Truly understanding each shoppers’ journey and delivering value means marketers must become customer-obsessed and not company-obsessed. Trying to advertise to someone every time they open a web browser? Fatiguing your database with an overabundance of emails? That’s obsessing about the brand, says Witcher, not the customers.

Being willing to re-examine who your customers are – “they are not even the same as they were three years ago,” Witcher adds – and nixing your preconceived notions about them?  That’s customer obsession.

Witcher will dive deeper into how Forrester defines this topic and why most companies have not yet figured it out during his keynote presentation on Oct. 3 at the Path to Purchase Expo. Witcher has been with the market research company since 2014. Prior to that, he held positions with Guitar Center and Harry & David. Attendees will learn from his expertise on consumer behavior, tech trends that engage shoppers, e-commerce, personalization and more.

One key to customer obsession, he says, is recognizing the lifetime value of the customer over the immediate value of the customer. Amazon giving 5% off to Prime members shopping at Whole Foods is an example of developing a long-term relationship with customers. “In an industry with low margins, most grocers would never give you this discount,” Witcher says. “But identifying and learning about customers with Prime memberships seems to be far more important to Amazon than immediate short-term gains.”

What works for one company doesn’t necessarily translate to another. Getting it right for your customers means you need to create excellence in understanding them. Age, gender, ZIP code – that’s what Witcher calls bad data. “We know that, but up until this point, it’s all we had,” he says. “Today we have different capabilities to collect data and consumers are sharing.”

To give customers the individualized experiences they demand, companies must collect and analyze data such as past purchases, content consumed, loyalty program status, time spent engaging with certain categories and more.

Don’t be creepy in collecting consumers’ data and don’t worry that the Facebook data breaches scared people away from sharing. “Consumers don’t have an issue with you collecting data; they care how it’s utilized,” Witcher adds, noting that brands and retailers must be overt when it comes to gathering information. “If you are going to create actual value for them, they will share.”

To those lamenting the decline of retail, Witcher is quick to note that it’s actually growing. Companies doing well have realized they don’t just need to sell products, they need to sell their brands. “And you sell that through customer experiences,” he adds. “Those that failed, they didn’t have a store problem, they had a customer problem.”

Path to purchase expo 

  • Oct. 2-4, Minneapolis Convention Center
  • For more information, including a complete agenda, and to register, visit path2purchaseexpo.com.