by Fabian Sautier — 11 September 2016
Product Developers, Designers and Marketers across all industries nowadays seem to agree that consumer-centric thinking is the new key to success.
If you follow what is being said and written about “being consumer-centric”, one could almost think that we are talking about a completely new design and marketing paradigm. Over the last couple of years in my former role as Marketing Director for a multi-billion-dollar company, General Managers increasingly become obsessed about consumer-centricity. The #1 priority was to rethink product design and marketing thinking in order to put the consumer at the center of all efforts.
While it is true that many companies have for a long time followed a product-first approach (instead of a consumer-first approach), meaning that they developed a product following internal restrictions and more or less independently from customer behavior, consumer-centric thinking is by no means a new way of thinking.
So how can we explain this increasing frenzy about consumer-centricity in marketing departments across the globe? Because we have been massively and increasingly consuming products over the past decade that have set, almost unnoticeably, the new standard of consumer-centricity product design: mobile apps.
Think about it: we all have dozens of mobile apps on our smartphones and spend hours every day consuming them. When you use an app, you are living a highly interactive and immersive experience: you click, you read, you watch, you listen, you scroll, you pinch, you zoom in, you zoom out – and you take for granted that the product behaves and reacts the way you want it to – without causing any friction or delay and for sure without producing an error or even crashing. As you know from yourself, mobile apps are among the products that we are the most severe with, we expect the smoothest experience and the slightest default will leave us frustrated and we might abandon the app.
These extremely high consumer expectations with mobile apps are exactly what you should use to coach your team into becoming champions of consumer-centric product design and marketing: they should think of their product as if it was the user interface of a mobile app.
The user interface of an app is by definition the essence of consumer-centricity because it maps the complete consumer path, i.e. the full interaction process ultimately leading to a good or bad product experience. When you design a user interface you need go through all the little micro-steps that your user will go through. So by definition you have to think like a user, you eventually become the user in the designing process. And if you do this rigorously throughout every micro-interaction in the product or campaign design process, you will eventually end up with a truly consumer-centric product experience.
That is precisely what makes the reference consumer-centric apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat so successful – they are built exclusively to provide a frictionless user experience.
In order to lead your team to a more consumer-centric approach you can learn from those companies’ design processes. Therefore, you can adopt the following mindset:
1. Think of your consumer as an (app) user. Imagine your consumer would use your product as if it were an app. Imagine your product being used as an intense, immersive experience. How can you make it unique and memorable?
2. Design the consumer experience path, not the product. The consumer path should eventually become the product; the product should never condition the consumer experience. How can you decompose the consumer path into individual micro-steps and design each of them so they positively impact the overall product experience?
3. Design your product as if it had an imaginary user interface. Think about all the micro-interactions that your consumer will have. What would be the ideal design of every step? How can you reduce friction? How can it be simple, intuitive and fast?
Adopting a user interface design approach might not seem intuitive, especially if your work in an industry were digital thinking plays a minor role. If you struggle to put this thinking into practice or find it somewhat theoretical, you could decide to have you and your team attend a user interface design training over a few days. These trainings exist for “non-digital” professionals to convey more the thinking approach than the actual technical design process.
I can only recommend it, if you want consumer-centricity not to be a business objective, but you and your team’s intuitive way of designing and marketing products.
What is your perspective on using design thinking in marketing? We would love to hear your perspective in the comment section below.
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