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Having accurate and reliable information on customers is an essential ingredient in strategic marketing Many marketing organizations, however, claim that they know who their customers are and a methodical approach to collecting information on customers is unnecessary The problem is that organizations may know who their customers are but the important thing is to know who they are likely to be in the future In claiming that they know who their customers are, organizations are stating that they know which organizations or customers are most likely to buy their products and services in the following three to six months This is usually a relatively easy matter since under normal circumstances signed contracts will account for most of the short-term revenues With the aid of modern technology and appropriate software, organizations can develop a customer information le which is easily accessible and designed to aid decision making A customer information le for a commercial bank would draw upon computer-based data systems (Figure 55) For organizations like banks, online customer information is a common feature Periodic marketing efforts directed at customers are also quite common The bene ts of the information technology revolution and its implications for the collection and analysis of customer data may prove illusory Davenport et al (2001a) argue that:
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Companies are rushing to invest in technologies that enable them to track patterns of customer transactions Yet most rms have a larger data warehouse but very few additional insights into their customers In other words, they may know more about their customers, but they don t know the customers themselves or how to attract new ones
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[86] Strategic Marketing
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Direct mailshots Responses Market research Tele-sales Online customer information
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Figure [55] Sources of customer information in commercial banking
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More traditional ways of collecting data which may be converted into information include a range of eld research techniques: Personal interviews most reliable method depth and accuracy assured for wide range of questions researcher controls the interview product samples, videos, literature can be shown to respondent respondents can be persuaded to co-operate non-response is lower than with other techniques Telephone interviews low-cost technique used to pretest personal interview questionnaires effective for short factual problems polling audiences in response to television advertising making initial contact Postal surveys low-cost method but unreliable effective in conjunction with other methods can cover wide geographic area and many respondents low response rates
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Obtaining customer information [87]
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Exhibitions in-store study of: prices, shelf space, packaging, merchandising and sales promotions shopping traf c patterns There are other ways of collecting actionable information about customers, some of them innovative One of the innovative ways organizations like Procter & Gamble use to obtain information about customers is to build detailed mental maps that capture customers thinking about products These mental maps are based on extended discussions with typical customers and the input of Procter & Gamble marketing people who walk the supermarket oor with shoppers, noting their behaviour and their observations To evaluate products Procter & Gamble uses mental maps and focus groups calibrated by statistical data from point-of-sale transactions collected electronically
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One easy mistake for organizations to make when examining different country markets, especially developing country markets, is to compare average incomes Comparing average incomes hides a lot of economic power elsewhere in the country The pattern of demand for any consumer good looks very much the same Few households with incomes below a certain level buy certain consumer durables, eg CD players, cars etc But large numbers of households suddenly enter the market for these products when their incomes surpass that level (Figure 56) Because incomes are unequally distributed, between regions and between households, a relatively small increase in average per capita income can lead to a much larger increase in the number of households in speci c locations with incomes above the threshold for buying the product in question The wealth effect operates as follows: the total income of the people who can afford a particular consumer durable in Year X + n is much higher that the total income of the same group in Year X The threshold income which allows people to buy a durable good such as a refrigerator or a car is assumed to remain the same in the two periods but since the total income of the relevant segment increases dramatically between the two periods, the purchase impact is very signi cant As incomes rise, the wealth effect can be an important driver of consumer goods expenditures throughout the world but particularly in developing countries
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