06 Apr Reimagining Your Offerings in an Ever-Changing Environment
The events of the past few years have changed consumer behavior, potentially forever. This means it has become increasingly difficult for businesses to intuitively know their customers, let alone decide which segments to focus on. Plus, it is always important to pivot, grow, and evolve in a changing business environment, which is hard when you don’t know what’s coming next. In this article, we talk about how customer attitudes are shifting and how you can adapt and be most responsive to their needs, ensuring the success of your crafty business.
What lessons have we learned in this changing business environment?
Before we dug into how you can begin to respond to your customers, we first spent some time trying to understand how customer perspectives have shifted over the last few years. From the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, we learned that we are in a cycle of distrust. Consumer confidence in the government, media, and societal leaders is at an all-time low. Between the political divides and the proliferation of fake news, consumers don’t believe that those in power have the answers or the ability to face today’s challenges.
The one bright spot is that consumers are turning to local communities, and their confidence in their employers and local businesses is stronger. 81% of consumers believe that CEOs should inform and shape conversations about policy. However, consumers are holding businesses accountable: 58% of consumers surveyed buy or advocate for brands based on their beliefs and values.
So how do we break this cycle of distrust? Consumers want to support businesses they see as competent and ethical. They see businesses as a stabilizing force in an uncertain world. They also want to see brands they support engaging more on societal issues because they see businesses as effective drivers of social change. Information quality is now the most powerful trust builder and restoring trust is key to rebuilding our stability as a society. The best news? Small and family-owned businesses are the MOST trusted by the consumers surveyed.
Before we finished our research, we took a look at what global marketing trends could tell us. Deloitte’s 2022 Marketing Trends tell us that marketers are constantly evolving with the world around them. If last year was about responding to an unprecedented shock, this year is about recovering and, for those best positioned, thriving in this customer-centric world. The expectation that the purpose of businesses should go beyond maximizing profits is becoming more common and consumers want to see brands creating a more equitable world, reaching net-zero emissions, and protecting consumer privacy. While consumers may appreciate relevant ads, they also have concerns about how their personal information, purchase preferences, and browsing habits are being used – we’re seeing growing regulation and opting out (iOS and Facebook), which means businesses will need to rely on 1st party data (direct contact with consumer).
Making sense of what we have learned.
So how do you begin to rethink and reimagine your customer engagement and product offerings? Remember that this new world is customer-centric. We go back to our Customer Avatar. Who is your customer? What are their hopes and dreams? What are their pain points? What concerns them the most in today’s world?
Unfortunately, a segment of your customer base likely finds that their total income has diminished and they may be unable to continue purchasing items with discretionary income. However, a portion of your base has found their circumstances less affected, or possibly improved by the economic downturn, and in fact may have more discretionary income. Remember; opportunities for dining, entertainment, and travel have been scarce in the past 3 years, leaving many with extra discretionary income.
While we hate to make it a focal point, the pandemic continues, and people are afraid of catching coronavirus and of what variant will come next. But this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your commitment to making your business a safe environment for them. Are you still employing social distancing measures? Is your staff masked? Are you still employing extra sanitation measures? Reassuring your customer that you have their health and safety in mind, and doing so demonstrably goes a long way towards addressing their fears and building trust.
What does your customer need? What would make their life easier or more stress-free? How can you help give her one less thing to think about or something to escape into?
Getting to Reimagining.
Now that we’ve looked at who our customer is and what they’re thinking about, we can go back to some of the fundamental questions we ask ourselves as business owners and begin to rethink some of our offerings in this changing business environment.
Why do customers purchase your products or services?
Beyond the one-time purchase of your products or services, consider the reasons customers purchase such products in the first place. What challenges must your customers still address once they’ve received your product? For instance, if they purchase supplies for crafting, where are they going for patterns or instruction? Can you meet these challenges or make it easier for customers to find resources? This could be a new offering! Can you address these needs yourself? If not, can you collaborate with someone in your industry who can? Working closely with other makers in your industry may also expose you to a brand new audience of potential customers.
How can customers reconnect?
For millions of us, the pandemic brought into stark focus how much screens and technology have come to dominate our lives. While applications like Zoom and Discord have brought us much-needed socializing opportunities during the pandemic, how can customers reconnect in person? Can your products or services help them find and create community? Can you help foster a community among your customers or encourage your community to gather again after a long absence? Conversely, don’t completely neglect virtual options you’ve explored during the last few years as some customers won’t be ready to return in person, and others may not be able to return in person at all. Continuing to offer some services like virtual workshops or curbside pickup will allow you to keep the customers you have already found.
What can you do to make your business sustainable?
Most people have recognized that current levels of consumption and waste are on track to make our world uninhabitable for future generations. Consumers are asking companies to do their part in their sourcing, supply chains, operations, and overall environmental impact. But many consumers wonder what they themselves can do, as they reconsider all the disposable electronics, clothing, packaging, and other detritus of their daily lives. Where can you eliminate waste? What new offerings might make it easier for people to manage their environmental impact, without disruptive behavioral changes that are too hard to adopt?
What can you do to make your business more resilient?
Is your website optimized? Perhaps it’s time to modernize your website, spend a little time improving your SEO, and ensure that you’re mobile-friendly and everything is easily searchable. Are you e-commerce capable? It’s not outside the realm of possibility that we will have periods in the future where we cannot gather in person. How can you build a business that is seamless—whether it’s online or in person—so your customers can continue shopping with you, come what may? Have you documented your systems and processes? This can help you review what you have been doing, make improvements, and create common knowledge that can be shared by all those who work in your organization. Do you have the right staff to do what you need? Having the right people in key positions in your business is critically important. Is your staff open-minded and ready to embrace change? They need to be resilient and ready to adapt.
We hope we’ve given you some things to consider as you begin to reimagine your offerings in a changing business environment. If you’d like some help brainstorming, contact us today to get started!