The other day, I was reading some of the letters that Amazon boss Jeff Bezos writes to their share holders. What stuck with me after going through these letters was their obsession with customers & their experience. They call it reducing the friction for purchase. The manifestation of this obsession is what you find in the form of AWS, Prime membership, Amazon Pay, Amazon Music, Amazon Dash, and so on. At the time of taking up these initiative, many called these moves utter stupidity. Had Amazon worked on short term goals rather than long term objectives, we wouldn’t be enjoying half the offerings from Amazon.
I look around & I am at times befuddled by the Zeitgeist movements in the marketing world today & how brands jump on to these movements. One has to only run run through news feed on LinkedIn and some of the topics that jumps out are “Retail is about Entertainment”, “Virtual Reality will change the interaction between users & brands”, “Mobile will get all the investment”, “Experiential Marketing will be the new frontier”, etc, etc, etc. Often times this make me wonder if we are trying to solve a customer problem, or shove our marketing strategies into our customers throat.
In today’s day & age, digital media & technology is mainstream, and that is a given. The moment we break free of the differentiation, there is a single view of the customer & a single view of customer path. The moment we are able to understand how the customer moves across different aspects touch-points and at the same time understand the context, then half the job is done. The popular marketing tactics as mentioned before comes only after this, failing which it will become a force fit. Imagine a retail brand getting into entertainment at the store, whereas a customer walked in to actually buy a product.
Let me also share the recent experience I had with Hyundai, and yes I am in the market to buy a new car (if anyone is listening). After having shortlisted between Tuscon & Tiguan, I wanted to test drive the car. Off I went to the nearest Hyundai showroom. The anticipation of driving the car has already gotten me excited. After hearing my need to test drive a Tuscon, the sales personal promptly told me that their new car is i10 Neos & I should test drive that instead. Without losing my cool, I searched for next Hyundai showroom on Google, and called them up only to be redirected to the central customer care number with no response. I turn back to the sales personnel who wanted to sell me an i10, and got the number to a different branch. They redirected me to a different store that had a Tuscon, and I ended up calling them which was again a dead end. After another long discussion with the previous store, I got the number of the person in charge of Tuscon whom I called few times in vain. I finally spoke to this gentleman 5 days later, when the initial excitement had died down.
In between all this, I went to two different website (each owned by different dealer), gave my contact details, only to get the call back after 3-4 days. Having said that, the moment I finished my test drive, I got 3 calls on the same day, trying to figure out when I was buying a Tuscon, without even asking me about the experience. Some where in between, I would have seen detailed reviews of the product on Youtube, have searched for the brand keywords, read reviews on TeamBHP & other places, discussed with my friends, etc. From marketing department’s perspective, every point of the checklist will get a tick up. But the problem was that, it was just that, with no understanding of what I, as user wanted and how I interacted with different assets. By the way, the store I did go was supposed to the e-store, where I didn’t even think about engaging with anything.
It’s been over a month since I did the test drive, and I don’t think the brand has engaged with me after that. I don’t remember seeing any ads from retargeting, I haven’t heard back from them over call, I wasn’t given any offline material (I later took it upon myself to go & get it from another store). Yet, when everyone is eager to explore experiential marketing, AI, blockchain, Mobile first, one tends to wonder how broken these experience can be.
POV by Rahul Vengalil – Founder & Chief Executive Officer, WHAT CLICKS