Consumer-Centric Marketing is Dead
By Jim White
I hear a lot of marketers these days say their companies are “consumer-centric.” I used to think this was a good thing. But I’ve changed my mind. Being consumer-centric is good. But it’s not good enough.
To be a truly transformative brand — one that enjoys true loyalty, passionate advocacy and a premium price — it’s not enough to be consumer-centric.
You have to be human-centric.
The bottom line is this: Consumers don’t buy brands. People do.
And unless you understand the whole person you’re selling to, you’ll miss opportunities to play a profound and meaningful role in their lives.
Think about this on a personal level. Do you consider yourself to be a consumer? Are you nothing more than a demographic, a “user” or “non-user,” a “loyalist” or “rejecter?” Of course not. But that’s how marketers often think about the people who buy their brands. They concern themselves with only a fraction of the whole person.
This has real implications for the questions we ask in market research. And, as a result, it has real implications for how we market our brands.
A consumer-centric marketer asks “Why did you buy this versus that?” What do you think of my brand?” “What do you think of my competitor’s brand?” And so on.
A human-centric marketer asks “What’s on your mind today?” “What do you believe in?” “What are your concerns?” “What kind of person are you?” “What kind of person do you want to be?”
And then, and only then, does the human-centric marketer ask “How, if at all, does my brand fit into your life?” “How can my brand help you?”
Brands that connect with people on a human level are more relevant to them. They become part of a person’s narrative identity, the story that shapes their sense of self. They are better able to uncover the unmet needs people feel but struggle to express.
And, most important of all, they make people’s lives better, richer, easier, more interesting and more fulfilling. They speak to the whole person — not just to a fraction of that person.
So, if you work for one of those companies that is consumer-centric, maybe it’s time to push things to the next level. The human level.