Silver lining: Using the economic downturn to win customer loyalty

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Zain Raj
Zain Raj
I bet everyone will agree that we are in a significant economic downturn.  Consumer confidence is hitting all-time lows.  They are buying less and they're focusing on what they need instead of what they want.

This is a problem for marketers: how do you create demand when your core constituent is running for cover?

I see most marketers doing the same thing they've always done. They are using ideas from the last millennium to solve problems of today — using the same tired tactics, such as rebates, promotions, low-price offers and blow-out sales.

If numbers are any indicator, this approach doesn't seem to be working. 

The times have changed.  Consumers have changed.  It is no longer enough to get consumers to believe you have the lowest price or the most aggressive deals. Given the current economic climate, they're not willing to buy what they don't need, and they're certainly not willing to buy what they don't need just because it is cheaper.

To make consumers consider your proposition, you need to give them a compelling reason to buy. Equally important, you have to give them a compelling reason to stay. 

I'm sure you are saying, “Sounds great, but how do I do this?” 

First, you need very good information — knowledge and insight into your customer base.  You also need information that has the predictive power to minimize decisional risk. You can get this from creative use of transactional and behavioral data, combined with attitudinal research among your core audience.

You then need to use this information in conjunction with overall environmental factors to solve some of the most critical customer pain points. I am talking about a real, tangible proposition that is meaningful, and not generic marketing claims.

If you can do this, you will discover that, in addition to driving loyalty among your core customer group, this same solution will work to attract a large group of your competitors' customers to your franchise.

What would you rather do – use the old, commoditized tactics from the last millennium or the new, scientific approach to fulfill your customer needs in a highly differentiated manner?

The choice is yours.  Make it wisely.

Zain Raj is the CEO of Euro RSCG Discovery. You may reach him at

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