6 Marketing Leaders on How to Better Understand Your Consumer

By Joanna Valente


Being "consumer-obsessed" isn't a new idea for marketers. We are living in an age where data is used to refine targeting, and marketers target products and services to different demographics by tailoring messages (and how those messages are received). However, to do this successfully, consumer demographics need to be understood beyond shallow and superficial narratives.

Consumers need to be wholly understood throughout the entire customer journey. Unsurprisingly, how to do this is an evolving challenge for marketers. For instance, McKinsey & Company research "shows more than 75 percent of consumers have changed their buying habits. In a historic shift in brand loyalty, 39 percent have either changed brands or retailers, and 79 percent of those intend to continue exploring their options in the new normal." 

As a result, marketers need to be constantly adapting to change through agility. Advice on how to do this is below.

"We've found that if you understand your segments and show them only the two or three most appealing redemption offers, then the conversion rates are much higher."
Jose Carluccio, partner at McKinsey & Company

"From a tech standpoint, you have to get your data in place to be able to build the quantitative models. You have to be able to tag and track customers and know which metrics to look at and which are not critical for the models. It seems obvious, but sometimes this process can take a while. In the meantime, you can begin by surveying customers and beginning to understand their likes, frustrations, and desires. You can start with attitudinal metrics and build those out while you're putting the pieces in place to build bigger quantitative models.

When you have the right models, you actually don't need a lot of data. But to get really meaningful implications and actions from data, you do want longer data, so you can really understand what is going on, can look at older cohorts versus newer cohorts, and better understand the evolution of the customer."
Peter Fader, professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

"Our research shows that the better the relationship with the customer, the more permission your business has to sell that customer other stuff. You shouldn't be selling stuff to people once every six years. If you have a good relationship with them, there's tons of stuff you can sell them more frequently. The key is understanding what kinds of relationships you have with your different customer groups and determining what they want from you and where your capabilities might fill other needs that they have.

You can get to insights really quickly, but an ongoing conversation with the customer is critical. Doing this allows you to build understanding over time and see how people change. Seeing how people are changing and why they're changing is really meaningful for brands that want to be looking ahead."
Jessica DeVlieger, global CEO at C Space

"If I'm walking by the coffee shop I'm going to get a coffee offer. I don't think that's an effective customer experience. What we do think about is how you take location as an attribute of the pattern of an individual over time, and then embed that into the models."
Bryan Kennedy, CEO at Epsilon

"As part of this whole big brand study, we're studying emotional connection. So when we come out of that, when we have the learnings, that's when we're hoping to transition more from product-focused to more soft lifestyle. Our intention is to get to the emotional. It's not an easy leap to make. But I'm looking forward to executing on that when we reach that point."
Mary Rodgers, head of marketing communications at Cuisinart

"Generation Z is for sure going to be less likely than other generations to use coupons. The other thing is as much as I'm a big coupon fan, the bad news is the long-term trend for coupon redemption is actually going down. I would absolutely attribute some of that to how we're delivering the majority of those coupons. They're still being delivered in newspapers and other things consumers aren't looking at as much. There are opportunities for delivering coupons in new ways to these new audiences that I think will connect with them better."
Matthew Tilley, executive director of marketing at Vericast

Joanna Valente is a director of editorial and content development at ANA.

The views and opinions expressed in Industry Insights are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.