Three Ways Global Brands Can Strengthen Personal Customer Relationships

by Bill Bien

posted on 10-23-2017

A brand represents a partnership between a company and a customer, and it’s important to remember the customer can choose to walk away at any time. To strengthen this partnership, marketing leaders should focus on customer relationships, which can only be created by authentically connecting with people and focusing on purpose over products to make lives better.

  1. Connect with people.

I’ve lived and worked on four continents. What I’ve learned is that the world is a wonderfully diverse place. That means we have to connect with customers in ways that show them respect and that embrace that diversity. For any company to be successful, it’s important for your marketing to feel contextual and relevant. Beyond the digital connections you have with customers, get out and understand in person how they gather information and make purchasing decisions.

I often challenge my teams to spend at least 30 percent of their time out of the office. I even go light shopping myself on weekends. By doing this, you learn what’s happening on the shop floor — physical touchpoints are still very important for our brands and products.

Another way to connect with customers is by localizing your global brand and marketing strategies. Empower local teams to adapt your plans to be more relevant to local preferences — for everything from online messaging to retail packaging — in order to connect with people.

Creating strong partnerships with your regional teams isn’t just a benefit to them — localization can also shape your global strategy. A great example is Philips Lighting’s “luminaire” business that includes overhead lighting fixtures. This is actually a very local product because the fixture differs based on regional preferences, even though the light source is the same. Your local teams will help you understand how to consider cultural differences in the way you market your products.

  1. Focus on purpose over product.

To further strengthen customer relationships, I find it’s quite important to understand how as a global industry leader, our lighting products contribute to improving individual customers’ lives. For example, connected lighting systems can help reduce accidents at night by as much as 30 percent and our LED products can reduce energy consumption by up to 80 percent.

Our efforts around a purpose — unlocking the power of lighting to improve global sustainability, rather than just being product-focused — has captured the attention of the journalists and generated a lot of media attention. This reinforces our messaging and unique brand value. It helps us better connect with our target customer.

  1. Make life better.

Continued innovation can strengthen customer relationships by regularly finding ways to improve their lives. As you connect with your customers, you’ll discover what they need and want from your products. At Philips Lighting we’ve found a way to use our product technology to help us understand what customers want next.

For us at Philips Lighting, the customer experience doesn’t just involve how people interact with our products; it also includes the impact our products can have on making people’s lives better and brighter. All these efforts differentiate Philips Lighting, and the connective thread is that our company is purpose-driven in how we create and market our products.

Make your global marketing initiatives flexible enough to strengthen customer relationships no matter where they are. Having this principle at the core of your strategy will help you continue to deliver great customer experiences on every platform and in every market.

Bill Bien is CMO & Head of Strategy and CMO at Philips Lighting, which is based in the Netherlands. He was a participant in The Future of Experiences, an Adobe Think Tank discussion held in Cannes, France. You can learn more about #AdobeTT right here.

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Topics: Leadership