Consumers matter. Without them, we would not have anyone to buy our products. Sounds simplistic, but it’s a message that’s frequently lost and/or forgotten as retailers and manufacturers strive to achieve sales quotas and survive in the hypercompetitive natural foods industry.
Focus on building a relationship, though, and you’re on your way to standing out and thriving.
What strategies do you use to delight your customers?
Topline reports are a great first step toward understanding how products are performing. They can tell you how a product ranks in a category, whether its sales are up or down. What they don’t tell you is how well the product meets consumers’ needs and what concerns remain beyond the sale.
Let me explain.
Deeply discounted products encourage consumer trial. Sales do not mean these products meet consumers’ needs. Results do not mean a consumer would purchase the product at a higher price point. For example, I recently bought a popular brand of yogurt on markdown. The items were close coded so I thought I would try the brand. Even though I got a great price, I think I paid too much. I couldn’t “give away” the extra yogurt. I do not intend to buy this brand again.
The key takeaway is that consumers are in the driver’s seat. Had I liked the product, I would have recommended it to my friends. That’s the best form of advertising for any business—word of mouth endorsements.
Retailers and manufacturers frequently forget that meeting shoppers’ needs goes well beyond the register. Consumers continue to measure their purchases well beyond the sale. They also pay close attention to the opinions of their friends and family.
Brand and store leaders need to measure consumer delight indefinitely to create a committed, loyal shopper. Companies that do this—and do it well—will “win” in any economy. Consumers will pay extra for quality service and products made with authentic ingredients produced by consumer-centric companies. They will pay more for products and service that meets all of their needs.
So, how do you accomplish this?
Natural brands and retailers need to learn to “speak” to their loyal customers on their level and in a language they understand. They need to develop an intimate relationship with their core consumers.
Consumer research only goes so far to address this. Grassroots gorilla market research that focuses on how consumers use your product—or shop your store—is a great start. You need to answer several key questions that get to the heart of why they choose your brand over others and vice versa. The same passion that naturals put into producing and selling healthy products is required to fully understand consumer needs.
Once understood, respond and innovate.