Customer centricity and competitive positioning



Today, it’s more and more difficult to differentiate your company by focusing on your product features. Now, the best way to really make the difference is by differentiating yourself with a focus on your brand and customers experience. Regarding that fact, customer centricity is becoming key in your strategy and generates a shift in companies’ mindset.

Customer centricity, now, generates a shift in the companies’ minds on “how to position my business to stay competitive”. Professor Niraj Dawar from the Ivevy school in Canada explained in his book “TILT: Shifting your Strategy from Products to Customers (Harvard Business Review Press) that instead of thinking “what else can we make to become more competitive” today, the strategic question that drives business is: “What else can we do for our customers?”

Because being competitive is not about creating better products. It’s finding the customer’s problems and meeting their needs. If it’s true that competitive advantage resided before in upstream activities (production, logistic,..) today, as you can see in the chart below,  it clearly moved to downstream activities (world around your customers : shopping experience, customer experience, ..)

The new strategic pillars of customer centricity

This new positioning required to rethink some old-fashioned strategic truths and to adopt new ones:

1° Instead of the upstream advantage, the downstream advantage resides outside the company area. It’s linked to the customer experience world and this competitive advantage is growing over time. It’s accumulative.

2° Having the best product is not the biggest factor anymore. You must think first on how you are going to position yourself in the market, and which competitors you are going to fight against.  Don’t forget that you are not stuck with the competitors you have, because when the advantage is downstream, three critical decisions can play a major role in whom you fight against:

·         How you position your offer in the mind of the customer

·         How you place yourself regarding your competitive advantages within the distribution channel

·         What’s your price.

3° The evolution of the market is driven by customers purchase criteria. This is something you can do online, but also offline. Therefore, you must visualize your strategy from an upper view and think “omnichannel”.  

“Activities that attract customers by reducing their costs and risks and repel rivals by building unassailable sources of differentiation represent the key to competing downstream. The downstream playing field has its own set of rules, and managers who learn to play the game achieve an early advantage.” Niraj Dawar, When Marketing is strategy, Harvard Business Review.

The customer centricity challenge for your company

At Minds&More, we are conscious that customer centricity represents a strategic evolution and a big challenge for companies. Therefore, we are proud to announce that Professor Dawar will join us as keynote speaker for our next Sales and Performance Summit on the 14th of November. He has chosen Minds&More for this unique conference in Europe.

We will also host some of our customers like ADB Safegate & Rexel whom we guided through their commercial transformation around customer centricity as well as the implementation of technology platforms to stimulate customer focus (CRM).


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