Being customer-centric is the goal for many brands, but Lego’s marketing director suggests that while most marketers claim to put the customer at the heart of decision making, many fall short.
Speaking at the Festival of Marketing’s Fast Forward event last week, Mark Blackburn believes the way a brand connects with its customers is “a direct reflection of the way your company is organised” and specifically how the “marketing team is organised”.
“If you think about how your company is organised from a marketing perspective, I’m pretty sure you can identify some significant barriers to true customer centricity,” he said, talking at The Festival of Marketing: Fast Forward last week.
Drawing on his own experience while in a previous role at an insurance firm, Blackburn highlighted how – despite claiming to be customer-centric – the company failed to listen to customer demands to purchase direct from the brand.
The brand was set up in a way where sales would “veto” decisions despite “overwhelming” customer requests for direct purchases from the brand, he claimed.
“It protected the 150,000 agents who are selling insurance on the streets or via banks and other intermediaries,” said Blackburn.
“The outcome was that other more nimble competitors moved faster to the direct ecommerce sales model and disintermediated the whole industry. Leading this particular brand to long-term loss of profit, market share and share price. Would this company today describe itself as customer-centric? Absolutely it would.”
If you think about how your company is organised from a marketing perspective, I’m pretty sure you can identify some significant barriers to true customer centricity.
Mark Blackburn, Lego
Blackburn also warned brands that the people who work for a company are as important – if not more so – than the processes and technology implemented to drive brand value and profits.
“[There are] three widely accepted ingredients for success: people, process and technology. When you bring them all together, and you hit the sweet spot, you have success. But let’s not forget that people create process. And guess what? People create technology as well.
In order to be truly customer- centric, Blackburn urged brands to ensure their team “reflects society” by promoting diversity and inclusion.
He cited data from McKinsey, which suggests a more gender-inclusive workforce can provide up to a 21% boost in earnings before interest and taxes, and a more ethnically diverse team can deliver a 33% increase.
“What I’ve argued today is that ultimately, when it all boils down to it, it’s all about people. Blatant statement of the obvious I know, but sometimes it’s worth reiterating,” said Blackburn.