Adjusting from product-centric to customer-centric
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
In their book, “The Intuitive Customer,” Colin Shaw and Ryan Hamilton took direct aim at why so many brands suffer when they try to take their customer experience to the next level. When you look around and see everyone else doing it (or attempting to), your first inclination is to jump on the bandwagon. The problem, as Shaw and Hamilton see it, is that too many companies just do not know what they are getting themselves into. So, if you pardon the authors for being blunt, that is a real problem. In a time when there is shift happening toward building a brand that offers customer experiences to build customer engagement, loyalty and market share, your blueprint matters.
Shaw, founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, and Hamilton, professor of marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, say that in today’s experience economy, the rules are changing faster than brands can keep up. “The web has put competition on steroids and globalization has been a real and growing force for some time,” they wrote. “People’s lives are much busier and their attention span is limited.”
In today’s $4.2 trillion wellness market, according to the Global Wellness Institute, brands are having to shift to more mainstream marketing initiatives. Take for example how more companies are promoting meditation as a productivity hack, and major hotel chains are marketing wellness tourism brands. Consumers are spending more money on their wellness experiences than fashion, and it is all about the experience and how to navigate it. What is the best diet? The best supplements? What products or experiences work or do not work?
For today’s wellness marketers, Steve Vargo says it all comes down to trust. Vargo, a consultant with IDOC, an optometric alliance committed to helping independent optometrists, believes the marketing shift, as he sees it, is about providing guidance and reliable information—period.
“Trust is critical in getting consumers to consider your product or service over another,” Vargo says. “You have to connect with people’s hearts and minds. Science and data help validate claims, but people make decisions for emotional reasons. It may be weight loss, avoidance of disease, improved concentration and memory, improved sleep, etc. Marketing should address the emotional motivators, and substantiate claims with reliable data and facts.”
Being a thought leader helps build trust in the minds of your consumers and leads to more effective and productive experiences. While you do not have to be a guru at everything and anything, you must have a passion and continually build your competencies and expertise in whatever wellness area you specialize. “Build this into your brand and communicate it through your marketing,” Vargo says.
For some independent eye care providers, holistic care and health/wellness are a large part of their brands. When people recognize them as a foremost authority, trust is strengthened and people are willing to act on the information they provide. “I advocate for this with the doctors I consult with,” Vargo says. “A holistic approach allows you to go beyond simply treating a condition, but also treat the emotional components of that condition and the person as a whole. In an era when more people are valuing health and wellness, this will help you stand out. Making an emotional connection to the consumers you serve is very important to your success.”
“The H&W industry can be like the Wild West. There are literally entire aisles at stores with supplements and other related products, not to mention the infinite world of the internet.”
— Steve Vargo, IDOC
Demonstrate integrity and trustworthiness with the information you provide. Connect with people on an emotional level. Put the wellness of your customers above revenues and profits. These are the steps Vargo says will help lead your marketing efforts.
“The H&W industry can be like the Wild West,” Vargo says. “There are literally entire aisles at stores with supplements and other related products, not to mention the infinite world of the internet. People want better health, but the vast amount of information and options makes it overwhelming.”
Mano a mano
Tivity Health is a provider of health improvement, nutrition, fitness and social engagement solutions. A bastion of health and wellness resources, the company has more than 75 million members eligible for its SilverSneakers, Nutrisystem, Prime Fitness, Wisely Well, South Beach Diet and WholeHealth Living programs and products. In its SilverSneakers network alone, 16,000-plus fitness centers use the system to improve member access and commitment to exercise.
More people are committing themselves to a healthier lifestyle and Tivity’s mission is to meet its consumers where they are. As VP of Product Development & Innovation, Mary Pochobradsky makes it her mission to help empower the masses to take meaningful steps toward leading a healthier, happier, more productive life.
That means engaging, on some level, with each and every one of its members across its spectrum of offerings. Take its new program for the 2020 diet season. Nutrisystem’s Personal Plans taps into a key category insight—one size does not fit all. The plan starts by asking targeted questions about the consumer’s weight loss journey.
Based on the feedback, Nutrisystem recommends a 28-day home delivered weight loss program relevant to their goals, body type and food preferences. Once consumers join the NuMi app and start their program, they receive custom content based on additional demographic and behavioral data.
This type of personalization is key to motivating consumers to adhere to a program, realize success and thereby stay with it longer. “The entire campaign is designed around the insight, ‘We’re all different, shouldn’t your weight loss plan be?’” Pochobradsky says. “Data is especially important to identify high-potential segments of consumers, and understand unmet needs to deliver relevant communication and products when and where consumers are most receptive. You complement this by using credible experts and trusted influencers that can help consumers identify with a brand (in this case, fan favorite Marie Osmond).”
“Data is especially important to identify high-potential segments of consumers, and understand unmet needs to deliver relevant communication and products when and where consumers are most receptive.”
— Mary Pochobradsky, Tivity Health
In the end, consumers can choose the resources and solutions that work best for their lifestyle and needs. The key is in the process. While striking a perfect balance between product design methodologies and perfecting customer experiences is an art form, you must be sure not to steer too far to one side or the other in the process.
Are there challenges? Yes. The first is that creating experiences rather than products is an abstract goal. To achieve a “positive experience” goal, you have to be creative from the get-go. Shachar Shamir, co-founder and COO of inbound marketing agency and HubSpot partner Ranky, says finding new and attractive ways to engage your audience is not an easy task. “It takes creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Your entire company’s philosophy needs to change, and that isn’t easy either, especially for big, traditional companies that are used to operating in the exact same way for years.”
If that sounds like a passage from “The Intuitive Customer,” it is because the art of moving your wellness focus from product to customer is never-ending. And the steps to get there are the ones that will determine your success.