Brands need to research strengths to compete

Using customer insight could help brands identify and play on the strengths of their business, a useful advantage in today’s competitive economy.  

Mindi Chahal

In his interview with Marketing Week last week, Sir Charlie Mayfield, the chairman of The John Lewis Partnership, explained how the business competes with the likes of Amazon and eBay on its strengths. But brands need to know what these strengths are in order to be in the game. 

It’s another use for insight beyond ensuring advertising and communications resonate and finding out what people think of products and services.

Asking people what they like, and want more of, gives an understanding of those strengths – information brands can use to differentiate from competitors.

For John Lewis and Waitrose, which together make up The John Lewis Partnership, a great in-store experience is vital because that is what customers expect of the brand and it’s a strength compared to online retailers.

Mayfield says that if the brands knew more about customers it would enable the company to serve them in a personalised an authentic way.

It’s also important to ask consumers about their experiences. Looking at retail in particular, research released today (16 April) shows that consumers say when it comes to shopping a store’s ambience is more important than its location or customer service.

The study by design consultancy Dalziel & Pow, which looks at 1,000 women, suggests that shoppers are putting more importance on brand experience in store and also finds that 63 per cent of respondents love shopping for the change of scenery and ‘me time’. 

Research can, of course, also lend insight from the opposite perspective. If a brand knows what its customers’ favourite aspects and priorities are within the brand experience, it can put the weaknesses in perspective, leaving a brand to leverage its strengths.