Consumer experience seems to be a hot topic in marketing seminars these days. It was also the topic of the day at Suhde 2016 seminar organized by MARK Suomen Markkinointiliitto ry. The afternoon was filled with speakers from different industries, who provided the audience with a wide range of viewpoints to consumer value and experience thinking. First speakers concentrated more on the theoretical frames on consumer experiences and how they create value to businesses. Towards the end of the day the speakers moved on to more concrete examples which then nicely summarized the day.
Elina Kukkonen from Alma Media walked the audience through the main points of her PHD about the value created by consumers online. Her main thesis was that the consumers create new kind of value to the companies in the digital world, and capitalizing on this value makes it easier for marketing to meet the risen expectations of measuring return on investments.
Through all kinds of subscription models companies are able to better engage their consumers and make the most out of the value they create. This feels very logical to me, but to me it seems that the biggest barrier that keeps the consumers for using any subscription based models is the quality of services available. Many services could really benefit from consumer centric thinking when developing their business models.
Elina Kukkonen talked about the value the consumers create in digital channels
The role of emotions in decision making is critical, making emotions financially important. Understanding this and the role of the consumer experience was the topic of insight agency Frankly Partners’ Anna-Riikka Hovi. Even though brands and consumer experiences are strongly linked, Hovi stated that brands are overemphasized in marketing. The main focus should be in consumer experiences. Brands should therefore be built on clear, forward looking insights about the consumer. Relevant brands equal strong brand preference, which then creates more money below the line.
Consumer centricity and especially consumer empathy really should be in the center of any consumer related business. They are themes that should be brought to everyone’s agenda throughout the organization from top to bottom. This can be done for example by making sure that the key metrics support a consumer centric working model.
An example of consumer centric set of KPI’s by Anna-Riikka Hovi
All of the above was brought to life with an example about consumer centricity by Joonas Mäkilä from Royal Ravintolat followed by a description on the consumer centric service developing process by Olli Heinonen from Casino Helsinki. As restaurants and casinos are very much in the entertainment business sector, the role of the experiences and emotions are crucial. These kind of services really need to be alert and able to fulfill the consumer expectations to succeed.
For Royal Ravintolat, it is all about the experience. The milieu has been lifted as the most important factor in their offerings, followed by service and only after these comes food. Competing with the quality of food is extremely hard and makes it difficult to stand out, so other elements are given emphasis over the actual meal.
Casino Helsinki has developed their multi-sensorial experience by utilizing trends from abroad, but also by involving the consumers to the development process by service design research methods. By listening carefully to the feedback they have been able to fine tune their services, offerings and the total atmosphere of the location to overcome barriers the consumers were identified to have, making the Casino more attractive and easy to approach.
These two companies have clearly understood the value of emotions and feelings in the entertainment business, and made it their priority to cater to consumer needs related to those. By carefully listening to the consumers’ feedback and needs and actually reacting to them they are also making a powerful statement about their ways of working.
For me it is always interesting to see how big corporations and organizations define and utilize consumer centricity and how widely spread the thinking is within organizations. I think the best way to learn and truly understand the methods and ways of working – your own and someone else’s – is to take an example from a totally different field or industry and try to make it applicable to yours!