Betrayed by what we want to believe

As retailers we want to believe customers love us but is that kind of thinking really what's best for business.

Even in the Age of Data, companies often listen, at times almost exclusively, to their “best customers.” It’s easy to understand why this is so popular: we want to believe customers love us.

Someone calls this “seek and ye shall find” research. A more technical label is “confirmation bias.” For example, if we believe there’s crime in our area, we look for evidence that supports our viewpoint.

As the Gillette company learned, this can be dangerous. It’s market share dropped from 70% in 2010 to 54% in 2016, following a traditional “our customers love us” marketing strategy. During this same period, Dollar Shave Club “amassed an enormous percentage of the market by anticipating the new emerging market, and speaking directly to their values and lifestyles,” writes Ben Zifkin in MarketingDaily. In this case, convenience and value.

Takeaway: It takes a bold effort to break free from the tenacious grip of a “seek and ye shall find” mindset. If we don’t, the alternative can be painful.

 

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