Why the traditional B2C model is dead
Digital marketing is changing the marketing game rapidly and all marketers need to catch up. If you have not immersed yourself in the waters of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) yet, it is time to dive straight into the deep end. Not only has the 4IR changed the way businesses relate to customers, it has changed the way businesses relate to themselves.
Business with personality
To be relevant to people, and to remain relevant, businesses need to have a personality. They can no longer afford to just have a brand; they need to be a brand and subsequently business management becomes brand management.
“Your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.“ (Williams, 2020)
The New Marketing Mix
Since the 4IR has digitised the way we do business (rapidly and so intensely), it is more important than ever to shift the focus from a product orientation to a consumer one. It is also important for brands to be able to adapt to changes in the market. These changes need to stem from within the business and starts with the marketing mix. The marketing mix (known by many as the 4Ps) has therefore been tweaked to be more appropriate to the shift in business towards prioritising the consumer.
How the 4Cs differ from the 4Ps
The first C represents the Consumers wants and needs which should now become the focus of product development or, put differently, provide a solution rather than an object. A great example of a company failing to do this is Nokia who produced many products but failed to address what consumers actually wanted and as a result lost market share to the likes of Samsung and Apple.
The second C replaces the traditional Price ‘P’ with Cost to satisfy the need and places emphasis on the value the consumer attributes to not just the product but to other factors such as status, brand loyalty, obstacles to change etc. This explains why consumers are prepared to pay more for products they perceive to have a higher value, for example the loyal iPhone community.
The Promotion ‘P’ is replaced by Communication. Instead of a one-way message designed to manipulate a consumer into buying, social media and website chat applications now allow businesses to have live conversations with their customers and customers in turn can now communicate with the business and directly with each other, which provides the all-important social proof that brands need to be successful today.
Finally we replace the Place ‘P’ with Convenience to buy which highlights the importance of not just having the product readily available when and where the consumer wants it but also making it available online, thereby completely eliminating the need for the customer to go out and make a purchase. It also speaks to the importance of a smooth, easy to navigate purchase process with less complications. The convenience of being able to tap-and-go is a good example of this, or having your credit card details safely stored for repeat purchases.
Marketing is no longer just advertising
When businesses begin to prioritise the consumer and build authentic ways to relate to them a few things become clear. Before, marketing was a segment of business responsible for creating adverts. Now, marketers need to build brands with the intention of creating relationships. With brand building comes brand strategy.
“Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too. “(Williams, 2020)
With this new emphasis on consumer-centricity the only way forward for brands is to get close to their customers, get to know them and what they want and then strive to meet those needs, the brand must move towards interacting with customers on their level. The above proves that the traditional business-to-consumer model is dead and has been replaced with person-to-person communication.
Where do brands start to build their personalities?
Williams (2020), discusses a need for re-evaluation of the core aspects of your business, what you do and why you do it. He encourages businesses to answer the following questions as a starting point to building brand personality:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
- How can you work to add more value and meaning to your product or services to strengthen your relationship with your customers?
Businesses need to always remember that they exist for people and because of people. Digital marketing moves rapidly and one of the only elements of a business that can withstand this ever-changing environment is their brand.
Williams, J. (2020). The Basics of Branding. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/77408 [Accessed 25 Feb. 2020].