The consumer decision journey: always focus on the root cause  

Before you spend a fortune on that branding project, first ask: what is the nature of your business and what do customers want? Any logo, and I mean, just any logo has the potential of becoming a memorable and powerful brand only if it represents a company that gives joy to users! People do not just love the logo. They only love what it represents! People are not usually fans of the sportsman or woman, they love the game s/he represents or plays specifically how they make the game exciting!

Ronaldo or Messi would lose over 80% of their fans if they switched sports and started playing another game altogether! People love them for their football talent, especially how they make football beautiful to watch!

The starting point is to understand why customers make the decisions they do. Why do they buy a particular product? How do they arrive at a particular decision? A customer walks into a supermarket and finds so many brands offering the same product. How does the customer decide on picking a specific brand?

The logo merely helps one identify the company that makes the products and that is it. If the story of the company is not compelling, many customers will just move to the next product.  Many times, you walk into a supermarket and a lady salesperson interests you in buying a product with promotional offers. You may or not buy it. Many times you don’t.

A case in point

We were engaged to review the strategy of one of the manufacturing companies. We joined at the time they were in the middle of the rebranding project.  When we asked why do the rebranding before the strategy review process is complete, they said the Board had approved the project, because, they needed a new image as the company’s products were not doing well in the market.

Naturally, we asked why?

Why are the products not doing well? To which they replied that the brand was considered old and archaic, yet the times had changed to the 4th Industrial Revolution, and the company needed to change overall outlook.

You don’t want to change so many things especially at the start of the project, else the client feels that you are undermining their leadership. Usually, every project has a sponsor – someone who is so passionate about it and they put in their effort. You don’t want to clash with the key insiders before you understand the power dynamics and how to make your case properly.  Consulting, I have learned, is also about managing power dynamics as you try to get the client to see and appreciate the bigger picture. Many times, it may talk long. But you must try, one step at a time. Any opportunity to educate the client about the market realities, do it. Since many of them are already successful without your help, it is a tough call to take your insights in and act on them.

As part of the strategy review, we usually request to engage with the board, major customers, and staff. For this project, we requested to start with the customers. Who is your target market and where can we find such people? The company had not property defined their target market – – one of the top mistakes. Many companies define their market segment in generalities such as A, B, or C class – to refer to personal annual incomes.  In effect, they do not know their specific market segment. Ideally, you want to define a specific market segment for each of your top products so that you make the products with the customer in mind.

We decided to look at their data. We obtained a list of customers whom they had issued invoices in the past 3 years. Made analysis of the top spenders and the products they purchased. We had some profile.

As part of our customer analysis, we discovered that the company had shifted its manufacturing operations to a neighboring company thereby transferring jobs that affected brand loyalty. That was the feedback from customer engagements.  Many would say, “that company that took away our jobs!”

The issue was therefore not an outdated logo but the shifting of the manufacturing plant! That is what it means when you focus on the root cause, by using data, and facts instead of opinion and hearsay. Every new project should be anchored on the customer. Solve the customer challenge or inconvenience and you are moving in the right direction. That is what focusing on the root cause means. What is the problem? What causes the problem? That is the ideal solution?

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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