As a customer’s wants, needs, and expectations change, so do their behaviors. As the world around us continually shifts and evolves, so do the customer’s wants, needs, and expectations. This interconnectedness between environmental, emotional, and behavioral attributes is why strategic customer insights are the basis of long-term business success. The better we understand these elements, both individually and collectively, the better we can serve that ever-changing customer.
Taking a step back, let’s be real about our role in all this; we are observers. Environmental attributes can be monitored but not predicted. Consumer behaviors can be tracked and measured but not dictated. Consumer wants, needs, and expectations are unique to each individual and ultimately determined by personal preference. Meanwhile, brands are on the outside looking in and doing their best to adapt.
But I’d like to focus on emotional attributes – the wants, needs, and expectations – because herein lies an opportunity for brands to move from observer to active participant. Not in the way of controlling or influencing, but rather in the way of understanding.
Think about the birthday gifts you give a long-time friend or partner. They’re different from year to year because the person is different from year to year. You get them clothes that match their current style, not what they liked in the past. You get them an item they want or need, not one they already have. You use what you know about them to decide which gift would resonate and align with who they are as a person at that point in time. The better you understand that individual’s wants, needs, and expectations, the better prepared you are to go gift shopping.
Now, if we put on our business hat, that birthday gift example perfectly represents how we should be thinking about our customers. By staying in touch with their ever-changing preferences, we can adapt and adjust along the way. This is why it’s important to move from an observer to an active participant. We need to reach out, establish relationships, and maintain communication in authentic ways to ensure we are keeping up with who they are and what they want.
As for the environmental and behavioral attributes, those help establish context so we can better understand the why and how factors. Since the world around us influences our preferences, examining environmental variables will help determine which are most relevant, impactful, and worth keeping an eye on. Since behaviors are largely influenced by preferences, we can track purchase patterns to identify which decision drivers are most significant and influential. These complementary pieces add depth and detail to our understanding of the individual, and they make up the landscape in which brands strategically position themselves.
Ultimately, this is all about delivering meaningful value, providing unforgettable experiences, and helping customers live their best lives. In order to do so, we need to treat them as a long-time friend who has a birthday coming up.