Customer Behavior

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When Customers Help Set Prices

To many managers, the idea of involving customers in pricing decisions seems counterproductive. For most companies, pricing is a sensitive, private affair. But it may be time to reexamine those ideas. Letting customers have input on prices provides opportunities for customization and can promote greater customer engagement. Opening up customer participation also offers a way for companies to create a new sense of excitement.

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Stories That Deliver Business Insights

Companies are gaining value from ethnography, the in-person study of how people actually use a product or service. Through its attention to the details of people’s lives, ethnography can be a powerful tool to help executives gain insights into their markets. Ethnographic stories can also be indispensable in helping executives rethink their assumptions about what customers care about and about overall strategic direction.

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Why Customer Participation Matters

These days, many businesses are focused on increasing customers’ positive word of mouth. But emphasizing customer participation — such as providing feedback or suggestions — may be a more important vehicle for generating valuable repeat business. As one COO said, “Levels of feedback is a way we identify our most profitable customers. Those that bother to write to us do care. And they do spend money with us.”

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Valuing Influentials Means More than Just Counting Connections

New research shows that marketers who want to determine the value of a particular online influencer need to look beyond just the size of a person’s network connections. Zsolt Katona, assistant professor at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, found that the value of an influencer depends on underlying factors in the network structure of that individual with the target set of consumers. Specifically, Katona found that people who provide sole influence over consumers are the most valuable.

Image courtesy of Flickr user H4NUM4N.

The Benefits of Combining Data With Empathy

Everyone has experienced the frustration of having to repeat voice commands multiple times before finally asking to speak to a service representative. Many large companies have become so focused on optimizing their business processes and systems that they have become all too willing to forget about cultivating emotional connections with customers. But in order to detect and respond to shifting customer needs, companies need to show more, not less, empathy with their customers.

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How to Identify World-Changing Innovation

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Anyone trying to figure out which kinds of innovation are most worth paying attention to has to come up with ways to, as Wired magazine puts it, “size up ideas and separate the truly world-changing from the merely interesting.” Here are seven things to look for.

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Collaborating With Customer Communities: Lessons From the Lego Group

Customer-oriented companies pride themselves on understanding the marketplace and integrating the best ideas into future products. But what would it be like if you found that you had hundreds, if not thousands, of knowledgeable users ready and eager to spend nights and weekends acting as extensions of your research and development department? For the Lego Group, the Danish maker of children’s creative construction toys, this close bond with the user community is not a pipe dream but a reality.

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Why Dominant Companies Are Vulnerable

Research has shown that several factors influence a company’s ability to retain market leadership. However, one factor has largely been ignored: the psychological forces that drive decisions consumers make and, specifically, the degree to which people feel they have choices. Once people have learned a company’s technology interface, they become more efficient using that interface and are often reluctant to switch to products requiring new skills or allowing limited transfer of current skills.

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L.L. Bean Weighs, Then Goes For, Free Shipping

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Maybe you are one of these people: You get most of the way through an online purchase, then you see the shipping cost and you decide, “nah, I can buy it offline cheaper / I don’t really need it / maybe next time.

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Putting the ‘Relationship’ Back Into CRM

Many think that the way to capture value through relationship marketing is to focus on the “good” customers and get rid of the “bad” ones. But there is more to best practice relationship management than maximizing revenues on individual customers and minimizing costs to serve. This article provides guidelines for companies that want to improve the value of customer relationships. For most companies, the transition to a relationship-based approach will require a significant shift in practice.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Nathan Eal Photography.

Why Companies Have to Trade “Perfect Data” for “Fast Info”

Companies have been trained to think about data all wrong, say Attivio’s Ali Riaz and Sid Probstein. “Analytics don’t have to be based on super-precise data,” they say. “The report doesn’t have to be perfect. It needs to capture the behavior, not the totality of it.”

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Collaborative Consumption: Drivers, Systems, Implications

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Are you familiar yet with Rachel Botsman and her book What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption (HarperBusiness, September 2010)? Her talk at TEDxSydney last May is featured at the TED website on the subpage about “The Rise of Collaboration” (the 15-minute presentation and a transcript are both

Image courtesy of PepsiCo.

Selling to Many Cultures — Within the U.S.

Image courtesy of PepsiCo. International markets have been increasingly important for many U.S. companies, and they are the assumed priority for future growth. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is representative: In 1998 it obtained 6% of its revenue internationally; by 2008, international revenues constituted 25% of Wal-Mart’s much larger sales base.

Showing 1-20 of 44