Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members


2020 has been a black swan year. It has led to a paradigm shift in the way we exist. In the new normal, the industry is at crossroad and is staring at three big paradigm shifts. As an optimist, I look at these shifts as a means to welcoming the future sooner than later. After all, if something was inevitable-the earlier the better.

The nouveau customer

The new customer is more knowledgeable. The Jio-fication of internet coupled with e-Commerce adoption has altered the customer purchase journey. It isn’t enough if the snack tastes good, it should not be baked. It isn’t enough if a juice tastes sweet and quenches thirst- It needs to have high fruit content. It is safe to say, the nouveau customer plans even his impulse purchase. For he has all the information on a click. Which is exciting and challenging. Challenging because businesses need to plot the customer journey better than ever.

At every touchpoint (point of awareness, purchase, consumption & follow up to consumption) the brand needs to be omnipresent. The language needs to be consistent, experience constant. And therein lies the challenge. Catering to the nouveau customer is no longer a marketing problem. It is a business problem. The companies most likely to succeed are those who make it democratize customer understanding. Exhibit cross functional nimbleness. Are obsessed with providing customers with the best possible offering. Help him maximize upon his spends every time. Therein lies the holy grail of the nouveau customer. But are companies ready for the model? Hopefully 2021 will carry an answer to that

Companies with ‘Digital backbone’

The expectation of nouveau customer needs to be met. In order to do so, every function needs to fire together. Anytime. Every time. To achieve this, decentralization of decision making is an imperative. Consistency in decisions is critical. In other words, democratized process lead decision making which is data driven is the order of the day. At the market- Shop floor- board room. The bed rock to this are:

  1. Digital backbone: Every action needs to be tracked; From the purchase of a raw material to the delivery of the finished good to the wholesaler. And it should be transparent to every employee. This would democratize decision making. Creating a process to help in decision making would ensure that the right decisions are usually made
  2. Employees who co-own the business: Probably the most under rated but highly critical piece in the jigsaw; In order to ensure that the right decisions are taken always, we need to ensure the employees are always invested in the business. They need to stakeholders in the business. Not just a passenger in the bus. This becomes even more challenging in a “Work from anywhere” environment wherein the employee wants to save on travel but needs to be invested in the business for right decision making. And so, having a digital backbone becomes more important than ever. So how many companies have a digital backbone. More importantly, have companies embarked on their digital transformation journey?

Effectiveness of decisions made

With democratized decision making, working from anywhere becoming a norm- the natural fallout would be analysis every decision through a magnifying lens. The question to ponder would be: “How to measure the effectiveness of the decisions made”. What are the returns on every cost? Whether it is manpower. Or marketing spends. Or factory overheads. With growths shifting from spectacular to steadfast owing to the customer becoming more qualitative than quantitative in his purchase, becoming prudent over cost would be the new normal. Natural outcome- Return on investment would be most sought out metric. However, are organizations equipped to delineate the investments into outcomes and measure the cause vs effect to make decisions on effectiveness? That is a point to ponder.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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