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Adnalysis: Customer-centricity — still the best place to start innovating

by Bogosi Motshegwa (@Thinkerneur) Central to all things Brand-marketing related should be people.

Innovations here, Innovations there, and innovations everywhere. With all these innovations, there remains one constant: people. Innovation centred on customers or people should be priority — if you think about it, all the best innovations and inventions are underpinned on the objective or idea of making life easier.


As brands, marketers and communication specialists (perhaps I should also add consulting firms), our job is to essentially make people repeatedly choose and buy our brands, products and/or services over competitors’. The driving force behind the purchasing decisions is value. What value are you adding to your customers’ lives? To start off with, what value are they looking for? I’m not talking about ‘value’ that’s captured in some consumer research study that’s accessible to everyone through easy downloads of white papers or case studies. What’s important to them?

The purest insights are those that you, as a brand, company and agency, are the only ones privy to. I believe that, as an ad agency or marketer, you need to get your own insights. If it’s from an easily accessible white paper, then, I believe that the insights by default turn into observations. Insights are unique, rare and shouldn’t be the same for every brand, agency, media and all related suppliers.

Customer centricity is not a new concept, and perhaps this is the reason why it tends to either not be a priority or it falls by the wayside when important topics are being discussed. We frequently speak about “our target market” but I don’t think that we spend the required time on understanding them. Then again, what is the required time? “All the time.” Learning your customers or target group has no deadline. It is a continuous and consistent project that never ends. Even after we’ve landed on the insight, and the campaign has been launched, our desire to understand people should be insatiable.

Real magic

With all the related topics around innovation, be it AI, machine learning or data, we’ve tended to put our focus on and energy into perfecting the science and technology aspects of it but not so much the science and intuitiveness of ‘human behaviour’. While technology is great to have, the real magic is in understanding people. This is critical to understand as the key implication is that our focus should be centred on better understanding our target audiences (‘audiences’ being the operative word).

While many ‘target market research studies’ focus on larger groups, our job as marketers is to delve deeper to better understand the segmented groups, and then even deeper to zoom into the nuances that exist amongst the micro-grouping or segments.

The micro-segments I speak of should be the focus. This will allow you to gain an in-depth understanding that you might not ordinarily obtain when looking at larger groups. When you look at most of the global campaigns that did well, the common denominator is “understanding of the target market or group”. By zoning in and being accurate, you increase the chance of saying what you really need to say, not what you think will work creatively. You will address the most-pertinent issues. Your solutions both in services and products will not be innovation for the sake of innovation but for a strong purpose that elevates your brand above the rest.

Customer-centricity is everything

Simply put; customer-centricity is everything. Don’t let technology be the idea; let it be the enabler to servicing people better. Let it be the conduit to connecting with your target group(s). If brands focused their resources into ensuring that they provide the greatest customer and consumer experiences, I have a theory that that will result in less demand for advertising. Instead of telling people who we are and what makes us (as companies and brands) different, we should be putting effort into ensuring that pre/during/post customer experiences are exceptional.

The benefits of being customer-centric are:

  • You become authentic — people believe you because you express your brand more vividly through actions vs lip-service
  • When you’re authentic, you inevitably reveal the truth about your brand and what it stands for, and therefore will spend less time talking about who you are, and just be
  • Everything you do is not from a company point of view but from their view, and they become priority

By focusing on customer-centricity not as a ‘value on the wall’ or on company documents but as an action point, your solutions will start to move towards being more relevant and needed. You will answer to the most-pressing issues.

The most important trend

I think, sometimes, that we overly rely on advertising to do the job, as opposed to us really getting our hands dirty and doing the job. We splurge in media and hope that our business problems will be solved. Long-term objectives require long-term efforts. Trends will come and go but the most important yet most missed is that of customer-trend. Customer-centricity should be a norm.

Bogosi MotshegwaBogosi Motshegwa (@Thinkerneur) truly believes that advertising can really change the world. Every single day he tries to prove this. He shares his thoughts on the industry and sometimes has unconventional views. Bogosi is the co-founder of Melanoid Éclat (for finding black entrepreneurs), a committee member of AMASA, an Advisory Council member and guest speaker at Vega, and also does speaker management at TEDxJohannesburg. He is currently a strategic planner at Net#work BBDO. He contributes the monthly column, “Adnalysis”, which analyses adland from a strategist’s point of view, to

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Adnalysis: Customer-centricity — still the best place to start innovating


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