For more than eleven decades, Gillette ruled the world of shaving. In 2010 it had a 70% market share, now today (2021) it is around 54%. The emergent market leaders are a pair of start-ups, Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club.
The newcomers’ secret includes understanding changing customer needs, a narrow product line, incisive data analytics coupled with social media savvy, no middlemen, right sourced manufacturing, and lower prices than Gillette.
It is happening everywhere, with previous industrial giants being displaced across many business categories, including Casper in mattresses, Barnabas in men’s clothing, Allbirds shoes and trainers, and Warby Parker in eyeglasses.
Direct to consumer brands captured an estimated 20% of all online retail sales in the US in 2020. Established brands, consumer or industrial, are under more significant attack than ever. New entrants face lower entry barriers and have no baggage of past business models and industrial age thinking.
Customers have become ‘enlightened’ through social media and learn about new trends and better products and experiences at lightning speed. Through the pandemic, customers expectations rose, they have become more choosey and rebellious. In fact, you could say customers have become prosumers.
Coupling these trends and increasing aspirations necessitates companies to become progressively Customer Obsessed if they wish to stay in the game. This requires an unending exploration and understanding of customer needs (even when customers themselves may not be aware of them) and an ability to act on those needs. The objective is to actively listen to 100% of interactions 100% of the time to understand micro trends and undertake next level research to deliver increased personalization.
Customers reject the one size fits all industrial age companies in favor of agile, immediate, and empathetic organizations. Mass customization is now achievable at a decreasing cost, allowing companies to offer specific personalized experiences and stay connected at every customer journey stage.
This extreme alignment of everyone and everything towards successful customer outcomes is the hallmark of companies like Adidas. They have established speed factory facilities in Europe and the US, with an ability to measure each individual customers stride, speed, and gait. From that information, use 3D printing, AI, and automated manufacturing to compact the time from order to delivery. This hyper-personalization is welcome so much that customers are prepared to pay significantly more for their unique product.
Adidas is just one example. Cast your eyes over all industry sectors’ leaders, and you will see customer obsession in every aspect of their systems, processes, and experiences right across the complete supply chain.
How aligned is your company?
Time is short
Those companies that are unable or unwilling to make the changes necessary to move from industrial silo thinking to customer obsession face an imminent existential crisis brought about by these shifting business models. If they cannot evolve quickly, they will go the way of the Blockbusters, Kodaks, Nokia, Circuit City, Borders, and so many others.
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