Marketing Priorities for 2010: Part 1 of 3

As 2009 goes down in the books and we usher in 2010, I reflected on what I see as marketers' priorities should be in the coming year. I will share three focal points in the next three posts. I begin with the priority that should have been a priority in 2009, should be in 2010, and frankly should be a top priority as long as marketing is practiced.

Add Value for Customers

I know, this directive seems like a given. Marketers have been obsessed with the value proposition for decades. The challenge, and therefore the priority, resides in developing an understanding of how consumers define value today. An oversimplification of value is price of the product or service. A more balanced view of value is benefits delivered for the price paid. In the boom years leading up to the recession of 2008, marketers were able to shift the definition of value in a way that consumers equated brand image as well added product benefits as justification for premium pricing (i.e., expensive but worth it).

The effects of the recession on personal incomes and household spending patterns has significantly reshaped many consumers' views on consumption and how value is assigned to products and services. Focusing on price as the driver of value is a mistake even in a weak economy. Relevance of brands to consumers is still important. A sensitivity to consumers' financial state is not exhibited merely by a low price. One reason Hyundai won accolades for its Hyundai Assurance program is that it demonstrated the company understood consumers felt vulnerable because of the recession. Hyundai was in effect saying "we understand."

The quest to add value for customers should never end. If it does, we no longer need marketing! What changes periodically is how consumers conceptualize value. Now more than ever, marketers must be in tune with what their customers are thinking and feeling. It is this focus on customers that will enable marketers to deliver greater value in 2010.

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