• January 1, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Required Reading: Why Customers Do What They Do

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Marshal Cohen is one of the world's foremost authorities on consumer behavior, and he has some good news for CEOs, marketing directors, and brand managers: Regardless of what they are selling, they have the ability to anticipate the needs, wants, and desires of today's consumer. In his new book, Why Customers Do What They Do, Cohen explains how to help forecast the variables of a changing marketplace, how to connect with your customers, and how to develop new products and strategies that will work better than previous ones. CRM's Colin Beasty spoke with Cohen about his latest book. CRM:
You say that companies must follow the five E's--educate, explore, elevate, entertain, and evaluate--to reach customers in today's marketplace. What do you mean by that? Cohen: I've seen more changes in the consumer in the past year than I've seen in the past decade. So many companies, advertisers, and brands all think in the same way with the four Ps: price, product, placement, and promotion. That's fine if you just want to get along, but if you really want to move ahead and catch up with your customers, you need to look at what you're doing and look at the five E's as the real drivers to connect with consumers. The reason they're so important is because today the consumer is the real decision maker. For the longest time stores and manufacturers would tell the consumer, "This is what we want you to buy." Now, it's the consumer who decides what they're going to buy and they're going to go shop wherever they can find it for the best price and best value. CRM: What are some new approaches companies that can take in order to do a better job of selling to the consumer? Cohen: Two big things. The first is marketing directly to the consumer. Companies need to stop relying on the retailer to communicate the message of their product. They need to tell the consumer their story and why their brand and product is good for the consumer. You can't rely on the store to do it because there is nobody in the store trained to do it. The second is recognizing that one size doesn't fit all with consumers today. We have niche markets today that market to all different types of people and groups, based on age, gender, whatever. Each type of consumer speaks a different language and has a different trigger point. A company sells toothpaste because everybody wants whiter teeth, but why everybody wants whiter teeth differs from person to person. CRM: What will readers find most interesting about your book? Cohen: It's really more about recognizing that today you need to focus on consumer behavior and not selling your product. Companies need to realize that nobody knows their product better than themselves, but they don't know what the consumer thinks about their product. That is the most important thing: learning how to see and hear what consumers see and hear about your product. That's what this book is about. Other Page Turners
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