Marketing, being the lifeblood of companies has evolved over time from being one that sells products or services from company-centric to customer-centric approach. As Mtech has proven, a focus on satisfying the customers needs and wants has given the company an increase into gaining 40% of the market in Nigeria and enabled them to open businesses in six other African countries. This is mostly because consumer trends in the marketplace are changing. Marketing has reached the point where consumers are taking control of the products being marketed to them through the force of today’s wide-reaching information technology (Laemer, Simmons, 2009). The overarching marketing trend of this century has become a revolution of consumers being the more credible and trustworthy advertisers and watchdogs of products. Power to drive company sales has been shifting from the companies to the consumer.
The previous post has cited that Gummersson has been asserting that customer-centricity is unrealistic and can never be wholeheartedly implemented. Kotler (17 March 2010), in his interview with ET said that “social marketing” is a force to be reckoned with and has been steadily on the rise over the years. Social marketing involves having to change the people’s mindsets as one way of selling products, and this is best enabled through the information technology we have today – especially with the rise of the internet. Today’s information technology enables people to know about their products and services at a click of a button and content and information can be posted online just as easily. And with consumers placing their trust in fellow consumers more than they do to advertisers – where only 6% think that they are honest and ethical (Jones, 2007) – consumer-created content about products is something that marketers should be focused on.
Many companies have already felt the strength of this new consumer trend in marketing. Nike, Absolut Vodka and other gaming sites have used Nick Denton’s blog from a collection of Web logs around the world called “Gawker Media’s Lifehacker” to get to their consumers. These web loggers are not paid to give the companies a good critique, but to give an honest review of their products and services. Even more striking was Sony’s sponsorship of the blog that included recommendations of software downloads and other sites that save time. This, in turn, has given them more opportunities to increase their sales and customer following. (Laemer, Simmons, 2009).
Another consumer-centric sub-theme tackled in the previous post is creating customer loyalty and value. The basic tenet here is that marketing should not stop when the customer has taken out his wallet. It is important for companies to remember that the biggest abuse of trust they could ever give a customer is to promise them the best and give them the cold shoulder at customer service. This is a classic case of short-term gains at the expense of long-term ones. There is always the chance of competitors taking that flaw in the company and making it their strength in order to snatch away tied-down customers. As the previous post stated, there has been a shift from just trying to sell a product or a service to making the product relevant to the consumers they are targeting, therefore gaining their trust and loyalty.
JetBlue Airways has had this experience well noted. As one of the successful budget airlines flying around North America, the company has snatched away the competition from the large airline moguls who have taken their consumers for granted. They have listened to what is important to passengers and have provided exactly what they needed, which in turn gave them a high satisfaction feedback resulting in an increase in profitability (Laemer, Simmons, 2009).
Finally, the previous post has also stated that marketing is no longer only the focus of one department, but has become the concern of the whole company. This is something that I would wholeheartedly agree to. Marketing is not only a function of advertising and selling, but it is also a function of attracting and keeping customers so that the company will stand out and continue to sell. Pre-sales, sales and after-sales services cannot be rendered apart from one another giving priority to only the first two and not the last one, focusing on instant money and not on the long-term returns that come with retaining their customers.
AOL as an ISP giant has run into this problem. In the beginning, they had been the only ISP around and had been complacent about the services they were rendering to their customers. This resulted in a growing dissatisfaction from their consumers. With the entrance of NetZero and Juno Online services, AOL suddenly lost over a million subscribers (Laemer, Simmons, 2009). Such heavy emphasis on selling and ignoring delivering on the promise has caused the company so much that today, they have shifted their business model and could no longer catch up to the rivals.