You don’t own your customer base, you never have. You may have been fortunate enough to have had a loyal following in your particular business in the past; however my guess is many of you have seen a shift in faces and buying habits the last number of years.
I call this “a shift of things to come”. Customers have always had a choice on where they spend their hard earned dollars, but as we evolve in the “now economy” customers of past are deciding to spend and shop differently.
We have a number of things at play here. First off, the undeniable presence of the incredible power, comfort and ease of online shopping. For those haters out there that cringe at the mention of online shopping, my advice to you is find the love. I don’t care what type of business you operate, if you sell a product or a service you must make it available online. Don’t fool yourself that people need to touch, feel or see in person what you’re promoting. With the evolving buying habits of today’s consumer many customers will as readily buy a car, computer or couch online as they would have in a retail location in days gone by.
It’s important to understand we are living in a wired culture. From baby boomers to GenX’ers and even the younger demographics, we use our electronic devices daily to streamline our lives, conduct business and provide us with entertainment. Shopping online was an obvious evolution – embrace it.
The next large variable for the ever shrinking loyal customer base is the sheer choice of options. Never before has there been so much choice available in most main stream markets. The bright and shiny appeal of new and fresh has fractured old school brand and store loyalty. I can speak as an authority on this personally. From being a passionate BMW and Mercedes driver for many years, I can pretty much tell you my new ride will be different. I have always loved Starbucks and the Starbucks experiences, however have been gravitated to a number of other coffee shops this past year and am loving them. One final example is my passion for Apple computer products. I still love my iPad and other Apple devices, however recently traded my iPhone for a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and I love it. I represent the growing number of consumers with no particular brand or company loyalty. I, like many others, will shop for what suits me in the moment, not what I may have experienced in the past.
So, what to make of all this? In business today you can’t afford to reminisce or pine about customers past. It’s your job make the most out of those souls that come and go in the present. Make the experience you give them seamless, enjoyable and memorable. If you open up your mind and business to new ideas, everything else will fall into place and you may even see some old familiar faces mixed in with the new now and again. Embrace the now reality.