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Latest From Our Blog

Marketers of today face many dilemmas – customers are going mobile, more demanding, and less loyal. The industry leaders have started embracing customer-centricity as a vital way to grow their companies and strategies that are more customer-driven in place of the more traditional business or product-driven ones.

However, it is not as simple as putting the customer at the top of your priority list. There are other approaches you can employ when it comes to customer-centricity, and most of them revolve around what the customers need.

But before we proceed to those factors, let us first answer an imperative question about this topic.

What Does Being Customer-Centric Mean?

You’ve probably heard from some of your peers, or maybe you are experiencing this yourself, that companies are now transitioning from product-oriented to customer-oriented and the strategies are different when it comes to acquiring new and return customers.

The customer-centric approach tries to answer the question of what matters most to buyers. It’s not a new term among marketers. However, I believe only a few actually understand it. Super Office, an awarded-winning Customer Relationship Management software developer, defines being customer-centric as not just having great customer service but offering an excellent overall customer experience. That means a customer is at the centre of a significant expertise in all aspects of his journey – from awareness, purchasing process, and even the post-purchase process.

Still think that customers are not king? According to a study from Walker Info, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the way brands differentiate themselves.

Graph by Super Office

5 Approaches That Can Make Your Company More Customer-Centric

Now, that we have defined what it means to be customer-centric, let us proceed on how we can make your company more customer-centric.

Adopt Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing is one of the hottest marketing terms right now. Simply put, it is the seamless integration of all the points in your customer’s journey. In the old days, a customer’s journey was quite simple; go to a brick and mortar store and ask a salesperson about the product that piques your interest. The end of the customer’s journey is either leaving the store or going to the cashier to purchase it.

Nowadays, it is not as simple as that. Customers have an array of devices to do their shopping and usually go to different points before arriving at the purchasing part.  While most users start their online journey using mobile devices, they could end up purchasing it on a desktop or tablet a few hours later.

Image by Heidi Cohen

Making this entire process as seamless and as hassle-free to the customer is at the heart of omnichannel marketing. Starbucks is a great example of a company doing omnichannel marketing the right way.

Starbucks Mobile Apps

Their loyalty card app gets you free rewards when you purchase inside their stores. However, Starbucks goes far and beyond a simple rewards card program and lets their reward app users update and reload their cards through mobile, in-store, website, or on the app itself. Every single change on the app automatically updates the user’s profile across all channels.

Make Customer-Centricity Your Company’s Mission

Customer-centricity is not just some words that executives can throw around without practising it. Interestingly though, there is a huge discrepancy between how customers perceive their customer service experience versus how companies feel about their performance. Just take a look at the graph by i-scoop:

As you can see, many companies are thinking they are doing a good job in handling their customers. However, only 8 percent of those companies do. It can’t all be lip-service when it comes to being customer-centric, it has to be your company’s mission.

Amazon tops the list when it comes to being a customer-centric company. Most of their practices propelled their company to consistently rank first on the list of the most customer-centric companies in the world. Their CEO, Jeff Bezos, has successfully embedded customer-centricity at the very core of each of his employees. The whole company is on a mission to always be the best. Just check out some of the practices that keep them on the top of their customer service game:

-Each meeting, CEO Jeff Bezos leaves one chair open at the conference table and tells everyone that it is occupied by “the most important person in the room – the customer.”

-Amazon prioritises the development of products that the consumer wants and needs like the Kindle and FireTV.

-The company has a culture of metrics wherein they do head-to-head tests of customer’s reaction based on their different site features and designs.

Be “Right For Them”

These are times when customers liking your brand isn’t enough to keep them loyal but being “right for them” is.  According to the American Marketing Association, Home Depot’s sales reached 19.7 billion after they started offering a wider assortment of products that their customers need. Here’s what Home Depot CIO Matt Carey has to say.

“Most people try to solve for what their internal problems are, or a pre-determined view of what they think the experience should be, we want to listen to our customers first, they tell us how they’d like to shop with us, and how they’d like to see us presented to them, and make those changes appropriately.”


So how did Home Depot do it?

In addition to the products, Home Depot also focused on the customer experience of checking out by standardising the process across all channels – in-store, online, mobile, and in-home. They also updated their management system, so associates can have more time assisting the customers instead of spending time on the computer. All these ultimately led to their success – and they are even reinvesting more on customer experience this year. Check out the tweet below.


In Vietnam, Thanh Nguyen created a company named Anphabe, which is best described as a Vietnamese version of LinkedIn. The company works hard to have an efficient networking platform that can connect millions of professionals in Vietnam.

By localising their website, Anphabe is a company that the Vietnamese trust when it comes to connecting with others professionally. Thanh Nguyen believes in being right for the customer, and she says that “If we desire to succeed in business, we should create meaningful and useful products or services for customers first and relentlessly satisfy their needs.”

See: Localise Your Website To Increase Regional Presence In The Asian Market

Transparency And Innovation

United Services Automobile Association (USAA), a Fortune 500 financial services group, has a very forward thinking when it comes to the implementation of a customer-centric strategy. They employ transparency and innovation when it comes to serving their clients. Here are some of their customer-centric features that made them a huge hit among customers:

-Their 24/7 “My Account” feature provide their customers with a real-time status of their car insurance claim. Customers can check as often as they need.

-USAA is the first bank to make iPhone deposits to their customers. This nifty app allows clients to use an iPhone to scan an endorsed check and have it deposit straight to their account without having to go to the actual bank.

-Soldiers on the field are offered a text account balance service.

These features, among others, are what made USAA on the top of their industry. Bloomberg reported that 87 percent of survey respondents would do business with USAA again. In addition to that, JD Power’s survey also mentioned that USAA’s client retention rate is a near-perfect 97.8 percent Check out USAA’s mobile app:

Another company that implements transparency and innovation is China’s biggest tech start-up — Xiaomi. They are a cell phone manufacturer, but Instead of starting with the hardware, Xiaomi first focused on software.

The brand, which started back in 2010 went on bulletin boards, forums, and discussion places where most Android users were. From the forums, hundred were recruited to download, test, and give their feedback about different versions of Android that they developed. As soon as they got that right, they started making the hardware, and after over a year, the first phone model was born.

In an industry where being secretive is a norm, Xiaomi has a very open environment and Lei Jun, the company’s CEO, credits their customers for a third of the features added to their operating system and for reaching more than 100 million users to date. Check out the video of their latest smartphone below.

Sweat The Small Stuff

Focusing on the big picture will keep everything on track, but it is easy to overlook the other facets of the company. It is sometimes the little things that are the most memorable to the consumers. Sweating the small stuff usually doesn’t cost much, but it will go a long way in creating a lasting relationship with your company’s customers.

The international hotel chain, Marriott, instilled this on their employees. From their housekeepers making sure that the alarm is not set before leaving the room, to their social media division who actively respond to tweets, each one aims to focus on being more customer-centric. Founder J. Willard Marriott says it best:

“It’s the little things that make big things possible. Only attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.”

Companies who use this approach appears to be friendlier and to be showing a more genuine concern for their customers. In return, customers will more likely form a stronger bond and increase their loyalty to these brands.

Customer-Centricity Is The Way To Go

Customers nowadays drive the marketplace and companies are taking notice. Back in the day, the primary driving force behind sales is a superior product and excellent service. Now, times have changed, and consumers are valuing the experience more than the product itself. A seamless experience across multiple devices and marketing channels is now at the forefront of brand and customer relationship.

The ability to address your customers’ needs is, therefore, more important than ever. With all the new companies and products popping up at a fast rate, the capacity to create a bond with your customer becomes even more essential than the quality of what you are selling.

With a better understanding of customer-centricity, you are on your way to a profitable marketing strategy. However, one thing that you should look out for is how to accurately localise your marketing efforts when dealing with a foreign market. In the next chapter, we will discuss how you can localise your website for the Asian market.

The year has passed by quickly, and new budgets, organisation changes, and rapid digital innovation that may disrupt many big businesses are already out there.

There were some drastic changes in the consumer goods industry in 2016. AB-Inbev took over SAB Miller for a merger of more than US$100 billion, making them now the largest beer company in the world.

Here are some of the changes that the Asian consumer goods industry is experiencing.

1. Rapid Growth In Asia – 2017 And Beyond

While Asian powerhouses like China and Japan are going to experience a slight dip when it comes to growth in 2017, while other economies within the region are predicted to perform quite well. India leads the growth with a GDP increase of 7.5 percent this year according to a report by International Monetary Fund. Vietnam will continue to be a fast-growing economy along with the Philippines and Malaysia .

2. Direct From Manufacturer To Consumer Via Online

Consumer goods marketers are trying to find ways to create direct-to-consumer (DTC) to communicate with their customers directly. While this would only be possible up to a certain degree decades ago, digital channels have now enabled manufacturers of various industries to engage with their customers directly.

According to a report by Forbes, there will be a 71 percent growth in manufacturers who sell directly to their consumers. Moreover, more than one-third of consumers indicated that they had bought items directly from the manufacturer’s website last year. Marketers of these consumer goods manufacturers now realise that using tools like social media, email, mobile, and apps to converse with their customers is the way to go.

Nike, a very well-known consumer goods manufacturer, has been putting more effort to connect with their customers by improving their digital presence directly. They have managed to grow their sales further by launching NIKEiD, which is an online service that lets customers customise their gear. The direct to consumer campaign was responsible for 22 percent of Nike’s total revenue in 2015. Here’s a video to better explain NIKEiD:

3. Weakening Retailers

As stated above, manufacturers are starting to engage their customers directly, and this is weakening the retailers. Some time ago, manufacturers had to rely on their retailers to sell their goods and engage their customers. However, new digital channels have allowed manufacturers to bypass their retailers. Consider the following figures from Digital Clarity Group:

  • Nearly half of all consumers are already visiting the manufacturer’s website with the intention to buy.
  • Direct to consumer is a way for manufacturers to keep all the profit. Net margin per unit doubles with direct to consumer. A vendor interviewed for this research mentioned that the increases among customers are from 50 percent and even as high as 400 percent making their overall margin better.
  • Manufacturers who are now selling DTC have customers who are more engaged and loyal. They are now able to promote a customised product assortment to customers due to the availability of data on the customer’s purchasing habits.

These factors are the strong-suit of start-ups such as the Dollar Shave Club, which we first mentioned in Chapter I. They have mastered how to converse with their customers over different digital channels authentically. Six hours after the release of a video with their founder talking about their product in a very humourous way, the blades were sold out, and their website

Since consumers now have access to information about products online, they have a stronger ability to compare brands, pricing, and reviews. These make companies such as Dollar Shave Club who has built good customer relationships, even more valuable to big manufacturers.

4.  Increasing Importance Of Direct Sales

Under Armour Inc., a huge rival of Nike in the sports apparel space focused on e-commerce sales as well as factory outlets and had a great start on 2017 regarding DTC. They had a 23 percent increase in DTC revenue in 2016 and is still looking for more ways to reach consumers directly. A huge part of this success is attributed to various websites that the company launched in places like Thailand and Belgium in 2015.

Link: http://www.underarmour.com.sg/

Most businesses have focused on this aspect this year. Aside from the juicy profit margins reaped from DTC models, it will also allow companies to control their branding story and message that they want to tell customers.

DTC has a myriad of benefits. While big brands do make a killing when it comes to sales through retailers, they are still at the mercy of those retailers when it comes to customer experience. That is why direct sales and e-commerce is going to be huge.

5. Nurturing Direct Consumer Relationships

As more and more manufacturers are going DTC, nurturing those customers from direct sales is becoming more important. Gatorade, a beverage brand that has a particular core market, which is “competitive” athletes, has been very successful when it comes to building DTC relationships.

A report from Prophet mentioned that Gatorade had realised that 75 percent of competitive athletes spend time online to learn more about their sports. Because of this Gatorade’s Mission Control Center was born. It analyses and logs the customers’ online comments about Gatorade’s wares and helps the brand understand what their customers want, get new ideas for future products, and allows them to adjust their marketing accordingly. Check out how it works in the video below.

6. Rapid Evolution Of Delivery Services In Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia includes 11 countries and more than 620 million people. Among the population, there is a huge chunk aged 30 and below with disposable income. It does not come as a surprise that many businesses are finding opportunities to innovate and provide valuable and more convenient services. One such service is home delivery which is expected to grow at an average of 14 percent by 2020 in Asia Pacific.

The popular ride-sharing app, Uber, realised this and launched UberEATS, an on-demand meal delivery service. Utilising the current network of drivers and riders, food from the customer’s favourite restaurant is delivered quicker than the usual delivery services. Check out how convenient UberEATS is:

Uber, however, was not the first one to do this. They are currently competing with other popular brands offering similar services like Grab, Food Panda, and Deliver. The demand for delivery in Southeast Asia is already significant, and it can grow even more, especially for developing nations. Check out the graph below.

Graph by: Euromonitor

7. The Rise Of Cashless Payments

The supply chain in consumer goods is a vital process and includes shipping and transportation. Many businesses will start dwelling more into automated logistic management to make the customer experience even more convenient.

Most Asian countries certainly have a lot of room to make in the logistic environment, particularly the rapidly developing countries in South East Asia. Amazon, although known to most people as an Internet retailer, has been developing an automated grocery store that eliminates long lines at the check-out counter.

The store called Amazon Go is equipped with machine vision technology to automatically identify which shopper took an item off the shelf or which shopper removed an item from the basket. Here’s a video of the most advanced shopping technology to-date:

You can also read about our article Creating A Marketing Strategy For Asia’s Booming Mobile Users to know more about how to take advantage of this trend.

8. Logistics – The Key To Reaching Consumers Directly

Another exciting development that Amazon has in the works is a drone that will deliver your items right to your doorstep. A patent was filed, and it describes a drone that uses magnets, parachutes, and spring coils to release packages during flight. Check out the video below:

In Southeast Asia, Lazada has partnered with an e-commerce logistics start-up to compensate the slow and sometimes unreliable shipping companies available locally. It might not be as high-tech as what Amazon has been doing in the West, but it sure is a good start.

9. Fast Up-Trading To Premium Products

A few years back in Malaysia consumers began trading up to more premium products. Apparently, consumers who live in countries that are becoming stronger economically are more willing to trade up their usual brands to a more well-known and higher quality brand.

One product that is benefiting from this up-trade is baby milk formula. It turns out that mothers today know a lot more about better caring for a child because of more accessible information. Consumers are willing to spend more on premium brands since it meant more scientific research were done and better ingredients were used on the product.

Link: https://www.frisogold.com.my/en

They see premium and more expensive brands as far more superior than cheaper priced products. And with Asia’s economic rise, it is already apparent that a lot of premium brands have a gap to fill in the market.

10. Reinvestment Of Profits Into Asia

With Asia’s steady growth in recent years, it makes sense that the European brands are taking notice. Two major European FMCG brands have recently expanded their operations in Southeast Asia – Unilever in Thailand, and Nestlé in Vietnam.

Nestle Indochina’s Chairman and CEO said that the company believes in the potential of Vietnam because of its “young and dynamic population, expanding consumer market, and favourable business environment.” The brand spent about US$36.5 million on the expansion of Milo’s factory in South Vietnam.

Unilever Thailand’s chairwoman, on the other hand, mentioned that their expansion is the biggest investment in the past 20 years and that she has high hopes for it. She also said, “Thailand is a strategic country for Unilever globally due [to] its good geographical location, which can serve as a hub for the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community, while the number of middle-class consumers here can reach 50m by 2020.”

Asian consumers are starting to be more concerned about a brand’s attitude towards sustainability. This became one of the reasons why the Asian FMCG sector is important in a financier’s portfolio. The recent investments from these European FMCG giants will certainly have other big brands looking to put their money into these emerging markets.

11. Unleashing Future Growth Through Business Model Disruption

Marketing leaders know that disruption is a good thing. One disruption that already began is the changing of the 4P’s of marketing (Product, Placement, Price, and Promotion).

Current marketing leaders are changing industries by incorporating modified key frameworks like the 4P’s. Here are the redefined versions:

  • Think more of Service (not just product) – Adding services wrapped around the product increases the value proposition and makes the brand more personalised. Service adds value to the customer. Famous auto insurance company Geico has a brand promise that says “15 minutes or less can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.” By making a bold statement, Geico tells customers that they value their customer’s time.
  • Access (not just placement) – Brands that are more accessible have a huge advantage over those that aren’t. Amazon Japan is an excellent example of this by allowing customers to shop online and pay through any of their 50,000 convenience stores nationwide.
  • Variable Pricing (not fixed pricing) – Consumers can now have the option to choose what they need and get what they paid for. Amazon has been doing this for a while now with their prices changing every ten minutes.
  • Engagement (not promote) – Directly engaging customers and encouraging participation to experience the brand helps develop a more lasting relationship with the brand. The coffee giant Starbucks is excellent when it comes to engaging customers, the company is splattered across all social media platforms and is quite busy responding to mentions as well as apologising to customers with bad experiences.

12. Entering Emerging Markets Digitally – Better Late Than Never

The growth of emerging markets gives rise to millions of consumers that have higher spending power. With this comes the endless potential for digital platforms that can further bring more choices and communication channels to consumers.

The gap is still huge for brands who plan to enter emerging markets digitally. This is because of the consumer population, of which majority falls into the Millennial bracket, who demands more premium and exclusive products.

In Asia, Lazada has been dominating the e-commerce business and valued at $1.3 billion. Despite this high valuation, it is still expected to grow rapidly in the years to come.

13. Increase ROI With A Digital Data-Driven Approach

Data-driven marketing utilises customer-related data to deliver the right message to the right audience, at the right time, and drive the right consumer behaviour. The beauty of this approach is that everything is measured and you will see which areas you need to improve on, and it also eliminates ineffective marketing.

The approach allows businesses to spend less money with maximised results by not having to cast a wide net regarding advertising and avoids wasteful spending. Read more about this topic in our article “Future Proof Your Business By Using These 6 Data-Driven Marketing Strategies.” Here’s also a video that talks more about this approach:

With all these digital trends booming this year, which one are you planning to use for your company? Let us know in the comments below which digital trend excites you the most.

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