The future of marketing: customer-centric

Too many firms still operate as if they were stuck in the 1960s, “an era of mass markets, mass media and impersonal transactions,” says a recent article, “Rethinking Marketing,”  in the Harvard Business Review. To compete in today’s “aggressively interactive” environments, companies will have to reorganize to make products and brands subservient to customer relationships, the article says. Put more bluntly: Restructure to cultivate customers rather than market products. It will require reinventing the marketing department altogether. The culture must put customer relationships — not products or brands — first.

The re-imagined “customer department” (vs. marketing department) has the following characteristics:

  • Report to a chief customer officer, rather than a chief marketing officer, who would facilitate the flow of customer information throughout the organization.
  • Ensure that customer service is handled in-house, not overseas, to cultivate long-term customer relationships.
  • Pay less attention to current sales and more to customer lifetime value (the future profits generated from a customer).
  • Use analytics (data mining, business intelligence tools) to tailor offerings to customers.
  • Change the scope of market research from the aggregate view to an individual customer view.
  • Have customer-segment managers who identify customer needs, and brand managers supply the products that fill those needs.
  • Take responsibility for the customer relationship management (CRM) system (not IT).

HBR article summarized in Insights from MSI, Marketing Science Institute, Spring 2010.
Related: Improving the customer experience
Twitter: RT @mitchbetts The future of marketing depts: Reorganize to put customer relationships — not products or brands — first.

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