The Unexpected Truth About Customer Centricity


The Unexpected Truth About Customer Centricity



The concept of customer centricity has been around for a long time. Why, one might argue, would any organisation not want to focus on customer centricity?

The harsh reality is, however, that most organisations find it very difficult to get to know their customers in a way which helps them to create and capture value in entirely new ways – and in ways which are valued by the customers! This in turn leaves many markets open to the threat of new entrants and of course, disruptors. Such threats are ramping up as many legacy entry barriers fall whilst business continues to move online and previously defined market boundaries become blurred.

In increasingly complicated marketplaces, customer segmentation has consistently been relied upon as a core tool for understanding customers (and recognising that not all customers are the same). But, in a world in which my 70+ aunt is addicted to a Playstation game, and my 21 year old nephew is addicted to cooking, traditional segmentation modelling is increasingly failing to deliver on its promise of predicting customer behaviours and trends. Analysing traditional demographic (or similar) attributes of customers is increasingly unhelpful in helping us understand what customers need and value.

Here in 2017, many estimates show that as many as 90% of new consumer products still fail. Organisations, it may be fair to argue, are not uncovering the important customer insights which weigh in on the decision-making processes of their customers.

Is Big data the answer to the goal of customer centricity?

Many people are hailing the arrival of big data as the next big answer to the goal of customer centricity. This is almost certainly not going to be the panacea that some people are promoting. Much of the data being captured uncovers how customers behave when they interact with existing products but these data are highly unlikely to inform organisations about what customers value and equally importantly, why they behave the way they do. Remember, many drivers of customer behaviour are emotional and social.

With traditional segmentation modelling becoming more complex (and often less useful) and with data telling only part of the story, understanding the ‘whys’ when it comes to customer behaviour and decisions, emerges as the only sensible way to start becoming truly customer-centric. Segmenting customers by the whys (their functional, emotional and social drivers of why they do what they do; and the ways in which they choose what they do) is also a more prudent approach to segmentation than traditional demographics.

The only real way to get underneath superficial customer insights which are churned out of incomplete data and many traditional segmentation modelling tools is to engage with customers via deep exploratory research.

We’d be lying if we said deep exploratory research was something which is easy to do well, however, even if you start by speaking with customers (yep, actually speaking with them!) with a focus on the whys, and if you begin to think about segmenting customers this way, you’ll at least be off to a solid start!

If you’d like to find out more about this type of research in the context of your customer centricity journey, or in relation to a specific project, then we’d love to hear from you: or We really do love talking about this stuff and we’ll be more than happy to discuss it more over a coffee. 🙂

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