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Customer centric: putting the customer at the heart of your marketing strategy

Published on 25 May 2022
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The democratisation of digital tools among the population has gradually led brands to think about a marketing strategy that places the customer at the heart of its approach. But what are the mechanisms of a customer-centric strategy?

The customer is at the heart of a customer-centric marketing strategy.

The emergence of e-commerce, combined with new societal practices, has profoundly changed the relationship between companies and their customers. The relocation of a number of services directly linked to customer relations, such as call centres, has led to a sharp deterioration in the quality of this type of service. With the democratisation of e-commerce, companies have often set up digital substitutes on websites, with the aim of restoring trust and a certain proximity with customers. New digital tools that take account of customer feedback have made it possible to develop new "customer-centric" strategies. A single objective: to improve customer experience and satisfaction. Marketing expert Christian Delabre tells us all about it.

Customer versus brand: a reversed balance of power

With more choice on the market, customers are increasingly selective in the brands they choose to follow and invest in. Between economic, ethical and cultural motivations... consumers are segmenting the offerings on the market and increasingly turning towards brands that defend values with which they identify. As a result, the balance of power has shifted between these two consumer players. Brands hold less and less power over consumers, particularly given the importance of certain communication channels.

For example, social networks, which are now an integral part of the customer experience, give customers the power to act directly towards the merchant, to give their opinion, express their feelings and publicly air their criticisms.

Merchants therefore need to focus part of their efforts on improving the user experience. To do this, they need to implement tools that encourage ongoing interaction with customers and make their lives easier. Guiding consumers through the purchasing process by making it more fluid is one of the keys to increasing customer satisfaction. It is therefore in the best interests of brands to place their customers at the heart of their marketing strategy.

From 4P to 4C

Marketing is a science in its own right, and since the mid-twentieth century it has been developing increasingly structured strategies. As early as the 1960s, the 4P model (Product, Price, Place - distribution network -, Promotion) was democratised thanks to Philip Kotler, one of the initiators of modern marketing. Now expanded to 12Ps, this model is showing its limitations. With the advent of e-commerce, this model has become insufficient because it is too product-oriented: these days, it is the customer who decides. In an omnichannel context, the marketing mix needs to adapt. A new model is emerging that places the customer at the heart of the marketing strategy: the 4 Cs:

  • Connection: the customer is in constant contact with the brand;
  • Choice: the multiplication of channels increases access to the offer;
  • Convenience: no break in the customer journey between the different channels;
  • Conversation: extending the range of possible contact points (e-mail, social networks, points of sale, etc.).

The 4P model is not entirely obsolete, but it is much less relevant if used on its own. In an environment where customers are nomadic, buying when they want, where they want and how they want, it is essential to take into account that they are in the driving seat and that we need to adapt to their new consumer habits. Implementing a marketing mix based on the 4Cs (+ the 4Ps!) allows customers to make their voice heard, to enter into a conversation with the brand and, at the same time, enables the company to build customer loyalty.

Towards unified commerce

What is unified commerce?

The multiplication of channels means that the consumer's path is less and less predictable. Thanks to the development of different communication networks and platforms, different purchasing paths are now possible. As the customer becomes the only invariable point of reference in this purchasing process, it becomes necessary for the merchant to link this act of purchase (the basket) to the consumer and not to the sales channel used. This is what we call unified commerce.

It differs from multi-channel (selling via several channels), cross-channel (interaction between the different channels, which must avoid competing with each other) and omnichannel (all channels and contact points must be interconnected to provide the same purchasing experience) in that it brings together all online and offline purchasing habits: click and collect, store to home, catalogues, shops, etc. via a single platform and a single shopping basket. Unified commerce also gives customers greater freedom in their choice of payment method, as well as allowing them to decide when to validate their basket based on stock levels, in real time.

Customer behaviour and expectations are evolving at the same time as technology and purchasing tools are being developed. As a result, they are increasingly looking for systems that enable them to approach their purchasing act in a way that is ever more fluid, practical and reassuring.

Implementing unified commerce: the Joué Club example

Unified commerce therefore requires perfect integration of all the data linked to the transaction: stock levels, logistics (delivery information), invoicing (choice of payment method), customer relations (satisfaction and after-sales service).

This system brings considerable benefits both from a merchant point of view (optimisation of sales processes and stocks, etc.) and from a customer point of view (perception of real added value from this system, smoothness of the transaction, etc.).

To develop this new purchasing process, the company is Joué Club has created a single customer database shared by all its channels. This enables the chain's 300 shops to manage the delivery of products ordered online, and to make full use of stock levels. The company also has an integrated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system for personalised communication with customers.

Results: 30% conversion rate, 30% unified shopping baskets, 23% increase in site traffic, sales multiplied by 8 by spring 2020 for home delivery and by 10 for in-store drives (source: E-commerce Nation - November 2020).

More ethical marketing

One of the major challenges of a consumer-focused strategy is to put in place systems that build relationships based on trust and on values shared with consumers, such as sustainable development (eco-responsibility), transparency (clear communication of sources of supply, for example), honesty (offering added value that can be verified) and data confidentiality.

One company has clearly understood this need for authenticity and transparency: Veja. The brand communicates to its customers that the production of its trainers has a neutral impact on the environment. The company has decided to reduce its communication budget, not to use celebrities to promote its products and not to capitalise on Black Friday, deciding that this event is "a day like any other" (source: Veja project).

In conclusion, the development of a customer centric is based on the following criteria:

  • offer the smoothest possible customer journey, to reduce the effort required of the customer;
  • create targeted, personalised offers that clearly meet their expectations and needs;
  • maintain an ongoing dialogue, putting the strictly commercial aspect in the background.

But above all: offer your customers a truly human experience. Listening, empathy, accessibility, mutual trust and the quest for satisfaction are the key words for a lasting relationship.

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Our expert

Christian DELABRE


After various experiences in traditional communications, he turned to the web. His expertise [...]

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