Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mi lista de deseos para el 2011!

I wouldn't normally consider the Spanish language to be in my comfort zone, but I thought of entering this often cliched and dejavu experience of making predictions, wishlists and defining trending patterns on a different note. So...here goes!...truly hoping the readers more conversant with the English language relate with some of the aspects covered below more than the title!

1. The 800 pound gorilla : With ARPUs (average revenue per user) under severe pressure in mobile telephony, look forward to Mobile Operators (MOs) initiating relevant engagement initiatives for their subscriber bases. Though location based offerings, including Foursquare, have made inroads, there is a significant scope for MOs to create loyalty/engagement programmes leveraging their customer transactional insights, distribution reach, locational capabilities and sheer scale!

2. 360 degrees : Marketeers will focus more on the pan-channel / touch point experiences for their customers in driving customer engagement. So, more of back to basics, rolling up sleeves kind of initiatives, ensuring that the messaging, experience, feedback mechanisms and personalization dimensions are all kicking in. This in itself should offer a significant boost to customer loyalty.

3. Talk to Me! : The holy grail of consumer marketing...1 to 1 engagement. Personalized programmes, bespoke experiences, segmented offerings are clearly the order of the day. 'Dear Customer' communication should rightfully disappear into museums and Internet archives!. High end luxury and financial institutions are well placed to take great leaps in this direction...but will they surprise us this year?!

4. Source of Customer v/s Source of Value : This is a jargon that I've been doling out for several years now. There are some brands that have a great source of quality customer and even data about them (which is quite different from understanding them). There are other brands, whose business lines with higher margin structures allow them offer greater incentives to their customer transactions. It's time that brands realize this challenge and opportunity and leverage mutual resources. These may be termed as coalitions or partnerships, but we need to several more of these around, hopefully offering greater value and relevance to customers. Look forward to seeing more mobile operators working with retail or restaurant chains in creating a segmented engagement programme!

5. Convergence Standards: Emerging technologies and systems offering convergence of multiple loyalty and payment cards into a single device or plastic address a clear need of wallet simplification! Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? Is there an opportunity for unrelated brands to work together on a single card, without it being a coalition loyalty programme? Smart card based solutions have been implemented in Turkey and the Middle east by banks, as examples of course. Can we see more?

6. It's just not the Transaction! :
Economic decision making is 70% emotional and 30% rational! The transaction is not the beginning and end of the loyalty journey, as has been stated and quoted for time immemorial. Brands would need to start incentivizing good behaviour such as 'advocacy' to truly engage their customers. Points for referrals are again quite clearly and proportionately linked to end transactions. It needs to go beyond and appeal to the emotional side of their customers as well. Makes for a challenging business case, but critical in times to come to differentiate!

7. Coalitions are in! : Though conceptually well designed and executed coalition programmes offer significant consumer value, few have attained scale and profitability. With cost pressures increasing and an evidently clear need for delivering a greater impact to customers, brands may find it more appealing to directly participate in coalition programmes than be overtaken by third party aggregators and service providers in engaging their customer sets. The game lies in leveraging consumer insights to drive transactions which should overcome fears of losing customers and walletshare to competing brands. The battlefield is not in the coalition programme. The larger battlefield is in the consumers mind!

8. Greed is Good and so is Redemption : Mr. Gecko has propounded the former. We need to believe in the latter. Let there be game changers in the industry that incentivize redemption. The key question to be answered. If you don't want redemption...don't give out zillion points. Invest the money elsewhere.

9. It's just not about the Consumer : Employee and channel partner engagement are equally if not more important than the consumer engagement programmes! Look forward to seeing a higher salience of budgets towards these streams.

10. Instancy : The differentiator is going to lie in recognizing behavioral & transactional trends and having a framework that offers dynamic and instant value / gratification experiences to the consumer. A thank you email 33 days after my flight is not going to cut ice. A point statement once a month cannot be the only method of information dissemination. A birthday offer 17 days prior to my birthday may not be a standard industry practice to be adopted across product groups. A 100 point birthday incentive may just not excite the customer. The trick would be in getting a fine blend between proactive and reactive mechanism. The mobile and Internet channels have made the delivery channels ubiquitous across brands and consumers. The ball now lies in our court!

Would look forward to your views and lists!

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