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  • Writer's pictureGerry

Inconvenient Truths

Letting your customer be your guide. It’s a brave approach. It may tell you many inconvenient truths that will impact your business, if you allow them.

I remember one example at Superdrug (General Merch retailer transforming into Beauty First) back in the mid 2000s in the UK. Not only did we interview and observe our existing customers, I interviewed brand detractors. Consumers who would never shop with us. The two outcomes shocked us.

- Existing customers -50% of them shopped with us for the promotions only. Hence if the promotions moved, so did they.

- Detractors - a key segment we coveted, were vehement that even if we filled the gaps we had, they were still unlikely to convert to us, particularly in the short to medium term.

It explained our plight but also spelled out that we required an overhaul, of not only how we presented the business, but how we ran the business.

We were in a tough spot.

So we took purposeful transformational actions and landed them in the most overt way we could come up with.

The most internally focused action was to convert our most frequently used conference room into a representation of our 4 key customers bedrooms.

The personas I created were relatively fixed as they represented key audiences:

The variable elements were captured by these questions and ultimately physical set up of their bedroom quadrant (4 key customers so each had a quarter of the room).

- who was on their wall (if at all)

- what was on their dresser

- what fashion and colors were they following

- who were they listening to

- what other brands have their attention

We pushed every buying and range review meeting into this room: the discipline (once built) was simple.

“Who is this for?” Show me!

We learned a ton. More importantly the physical embodiment of these consumer representations left no-one in our organization in any doubt that these personas were our Stars!

It did it’s job. It was a strong marker on who we were going to listen to. Who the primary voice in our business would be.

As an aside it ended up being a revenue stream. Some of our key suppliers were so taken by the approach they wanted to sponsor and design other meeting rooms in their own brand style.

Made for a vibrant, but focused, place to work!

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