Supermarkets are like 'good friends' - but many firms lack customer understanding

19th Jul 2010

While consumers feel that supermarkets know them as well as good friends, too many organisations collect lots of customer data without demonstrating the corresponding customer knowledge.

These are the findings of a survey among 1,000 consumers undertaken by database marketing specialist GI Insight. It found that too many UK organisations are failing to provide the personalised, highly relevant customer communications that would result in their brand being viewed in a more positive light and their marketing messages being more welcomed.

The study revealed that customers rated supermarkets as the best at understanding their needs and preferences, giving them an average score of 26% above the norm.

Respondents felt that such businesses knew them in a similar fashion to ‘good friends’ rather than ‘acquaintances’ or ‘total strangers’. Female customers were the most impressed, however, rating them at 33% above the norm.

Next in line were internet service providers (17% above average), followed by banks and entertainment companies (+16% respectively).

The sector with the worst customer understanding, however, was estate agents, which came in at 39% below the norm. Alcoholic drinks providers were also deemed to be most out of touch (-28%) as were by computer manufacturers (-22%) and car makers (-20%).

Andy Wood, GI Insight’s managing director, pointed out that too many organisations were merely paying lip services to the concept of ‘know your customer’. "It would seem that, while most organisations that collect a lot of customer data are managing to provide their customers with personalised, highly relevant offers and communications, there is still a long way to go before this becomes the norm," he said.

Even those industries that appeared to have close relationships with customers were failing to successfully target different demographics by not using consumer data effectively in order to tailor marketing messages, he added. This was despite the fact that such activity helped with retention, cross- and up-selling.

As a group, women rated organisations’ knowledge of their requirements the least highly, giving all sectors a score of 14% lower than men. The most positive category were 18 to 24 year olds, however, who consistently gave brands the highest scores.


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