Winning customers requires a competitive price, being authentic and providing a solution that enhances personal and environmental wellness
Generating sales growth is the key business issue facing every business. Companies like Chipotle, Panera Bread and Unilver that are achieving sustainable revenue growth by satisfying the consumer search for price competitive and authentically sourced in me, on me and around me solutions.
Today the three keys to winning customers are being price competitive, authentic and supplying a solution that enhances human/environmental health.
1. Sales success requires price competitiveness
90% of Americans have not seen real income growth in fifteen years. Because of the scale of personal income stagnation the role of price competitiveness is more important than ever in winning customers. Today almost half of all consumers say price discount coupons are extremely or very important in product purchase decision.
The consumer quest to stretch their dollars as far as possible is the key driver in Amazon’s revenue growth. It also explains why McDonalds remains the largest restaurant chain in the U.S.
But offering low prices to win customers is now a low margin business strategy. Amazon has seen tremendous revenue growth but without sustained profitability. McDonald’s franchisees now complain about the lack of profit margin in the company’s dollar menu offerings. Because of limited personal incomes customers can be bought with low price promotions. But buying them and making a profit are now two different things.
The path to winning customers and profits is to offer price competitive, authentic wellness solutions. For example, this is the success formula of Chipotle and their “good food wins” strategy. They offer price competitive food sustainably sourced.
2. Authenticity key to attracting profitable customers
Customers armed with smart phones that enable instant online access to business and product reviews has made authenticity the foundation of marketing success. Today over fifty percent of the millennial generation, destined to replace the Boomer Generation as America’s largest income group by 2017, buy products based upon the digital reviews of strangers. Moms, which account for eighty percent of household incomes, use websites like Care2 and Moms For Clean Air to evaluate the authenticity of companies and products.
Customer perception of authenticity is a major challenge for companies like McDonald’s and Walmart. Both of these companies have significant sustainability initiatives. But their actions and messaging are in conflict. McDonald’s is having a hard time selling healthy food because the majority of their promotional efforts and brand imaging centers on dollar menu items.
Walmart is a leader in developing “Buyer Scorecards” that define sustainable criteria in evaluating the products that Walmart puts on their shelves. But this Walmart commitment to developing more sustainable products is diminished by the company’s less sustainable actions like plastic bag checkout carousels and a dearth of customer recycling service.
Companies like Trader Joes or Unilever are demonstrating how a business can win customers by being both price competitive and authentic. Trader Joes’ commitment to being price competitive and not stocking GMO foods has won them a loyal customer following seeking both value and values. Unilever’s Sustainable Living strategy links their brands of soaps and foods to achieving measurable and sustainable results like helping one billion people around the world improve their health and well-being.
Authenticity now joins price competitiveness as the foundation for winning a customer. As one Walmart executive summarized the new normal in branding, “We are all naked.” The business solution is to have a culture that promotes products and associate behavior that aligns with customer values. Selling cheap food that has long-term health consequences will, at best, generate stagnate revenues results.
Selling cars with systemic design flaws and then not taking aggressive action to correct the flaw is a recipe for destroying a previously trusted brand. Conversely, doing good has never been more successful in winning customers. Customers are looking to their fellow consumers for product and company reviews on whether a product works, is safe and is sustainably produced.
These candid and real reviews now define the authenticity and brand for every business. We are all naked and to win customers today a business must be authentic in what it does and what it sells.
3. Selling wellness solutions key to revenue growth
Customers are actively looking for products that will enhance their wellness. The millennial generation views sustainability as key to their futures. They are engineering their lives around urban living that values experience over stuff. Moms are actively looking for products that enhance the wellness of their loved ones. They seek wellness solutions that fit into their family’s budget. Both of these key consumers see a direct link between saving money, improving human health and reducing environmental impacts.
The path to increased sales is to offer customers authentic, price competitive “in me, on me and around me” solutions. Chipotle does this while McDonald’s does not. Digital does, paper does not. Repurposing an item does while promoting a “throw away” consumer good does not. The key to winning customers in 2014 is to satisfy their search for “cost less, mean more” products that align value with values.