This week Dan Attivissimo argues that understanding your customers’ needs – vital as that is – may not always be enough.
In a Market Research World article written by Mauricio Adade, CMO of DSM, the author talks about the importance of market research as a tool to enhance a company’s customer value proposition (CVP). Not only does he feel that utilizing market research can uncover insights into direct customers’ needs, but also serves as a great way to position your value to your clients by better understanding the customers of your customers. He goes on to say:
“In business-to-business companies research normally stops at the customer, but in my opinion it should go all the way to the customer of your customer, because only if you understand them can you have the right conversation, speak the same language and add value.”
A company operating within any business-to-business industry may see many different layers and moving parts where their products are used. Businesses that cater to multiple sectors should heed the above stated advice even more so. With a variety of end-users and applications in their value chain, each value proposition will resonate differently with every “piece” down the chain. To that end, understanding what your customers’ customer values most will help you communicate and provide that extra piece of value added service.
Take, for example, a materials supplier – a company that may simply produce a strong material that can be used for many different applications, like protective gloves, fishing lines, or even rope. Purchasers of this material are likely to be the manufacturers of those types of products just mentioned. Their customers will either be distributors, retailers, or even end-users. As we move further down the supply chain, each “piece” or business interacting with the material will have a different reason for purchasing that material. For the materials supplier to best understand how they can position their value proposition to their customers (manufacturers of the different products), they’ll need to uncover the different reasons why their material is valued for each of the different applications. After all, someone who is purchasing gloves will have a different set of what’s important to them than someone who is purchasing rope.
As a market research supplier it’s our goal to not only obtain but translate insights to our clients so they can then be used in a strategic manner. Helping our clients align themselves with their own customers’ needs takes more effort than simply developing a customer satisfaction survey. Sometimes we, as market researchers, must “peel the onion” and probe into the different points of a value chain to fill in the gaps. This means talking with both end-users and distributors of that material for each application so that we can help our client maintain a line of communication and offer a more clear customer value proposition through each channel.