Where will your puck be this holiday season?
The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, probably the most talented hockey player that ever lived once stated:
"A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be".
If you think about that, he is essentially attributing his success to his ability to predict the immediate future of the hockey puck. Gretzky had an uncanny ability to assimilate massive amounts of information about his opponents and team members, and then make decisions based on that data. The end result...he scored more goals than any of his peers, and it is a record that may not ever be broken.
In today's changing landscape of consumer purchasing behavior, I think that retailers and consumer product & service firms can learn a lot from Gretzky's advice (works for chess, Go, regattas, football, lacrosse & Words with Friends, if you aren’t a hockey fan).
Consumers not only have choices about what they buy and who they buy from, but also how, when and where they buy. It has already created a dramatic shift in how retail marketers need to message and drive store/website traffic, and has created challenges for merchandisers and store operations leaders as well.
Case in point, my son complained that his lacrosse gloves were too small, and even though there is a Dick's, a Lacrosse Extreme and a Sports Authority located within 8 miles of our house, I decided to buy it online. Why? Because I wasn't certain I would be able to find the make, model and color in his size, and was not looking forward to driving from store to store. Plus, my son didn’t need the gloves for another 3 days. I took a picture of one of his teammates new gloves, searched for it and found it on my Android tablet, then ordered it; choosing an online retailer that had my credit card info stored already, and had guaranteed 2 day delivery.
Think about what just happened. Because of convenience, access & social influence, my buying decision was formed by a number of related small circumstances that combined with my familiarity with an existing online retailer, made my decision really simple.
So what does that mean? If you assume that the consumer is the hockey puck, what is the best strategy for you to get the puck in the net? Should you be thinking about where the consumer is right now, or where the consumer will be?
My simple answer is both. Retailers and consumer goods manufacturers need to gather data points about where their customers are going to shop and how they shop today, if they want to meet their quarterly goals. In order to drive long term success, however, they also need to gather that information in context. For example, if you are looking for insights about how consumers use Facebook to shop, well why not ask them while they are in a Facebook session? If someone is out and about and uses a smartphone heavily, well doesn't it make sense to gather idea via a mobile device such as an iPad, a Microsoft tablet or Android phone (sorry Blackberry)?
Context is also about the who. Many organizations understand that customers in different regions, age groups, and lifestyles have different buying behaviors, yet they don’t always consider them when trying to make changes to their website, application, or customer experience. As a result, the end product is generic, because their information was; consumers give that expensive update the big yawn.
Gathering qualitative, quantitative and visual feedback from customers in context will provide your stakeholders with credible, predictable behaviors because your research carries greater veracity through its variety. And guess what? That information is perceived as being more credible which leads to better decisions. As a result you are now giving business unit leaders an artificial Gretzky gut instinct: they can now make their decisions about where their customers will be, and can provide their customers with appropriate resources to make their buying decisions simpler....and faster.... and more frequent…and larger.
At Passenger we help firms integrate the voice of the customer into their insights, innovation and advocacy processes through online and mobile communities. Our state of the art Android and IOS smart phone mobile capabilities connect members to their communities anywhere and anytime. This gives our clients the ability to extend their research efforts out to the point of decision, the point of sale and the point of consumption, by market segment, yielding the information they need to create more opportunities for a sale. Our team of insights experts, community moderators and strategists can teach you how, coach you along the way, or even be a part of your team, so that you can put the pieces and processes in place to routinely understand and deliver products and services that meet your customers present and future unmet needs….even when your customers don’t know what they are!
Gretzky was a great scorer of goals, because he could anticipate where the puck was going to be and when he arrived at the puck, he had the data & skills to execute. He scored more, because he created more opportunities for high percentage shots on goal. That came from practice, knowledge, real time data & talent. What do you need to help you create more shots on goal this holiday season so it matters?
Want to learn more? Check out our new webinar focusing on innovating the customer experience: