Still Customer-Crazy after all these years

Some of us in the B2B customer strategy remember back many years to when customer focused companiesprofessional "customer feedback" was for the most part, consumer marketing research -- product testing mainly, but also concept tests, advertising recall, product marketing (awareness/attitude/usage) studies.

You partnered on a project with your client contact, usually a market researcher or product manager (or both) who was seeking market insights to grow or improve his or her brand, or help roll out something new. The stakes were high -- narrowing to the right decision on how to invest in the brand. The work was hard and the study had to be done right. You didn't dare talk about these projects to anyone, even family to secure knowledge that competing brands wanted to know.

Our company's business model evolved to advise B2B vs. B2C customer strategy but the brands my colleagues and I worked with thirty or so years ago are still around. Some of those are in the image to the right. Until speaking to an industry group last week, I had forgotten what tremendous companies these were.

And the main reason why these company brands have stood the test of time? The voice of the customer was sought out scientifically to anchor major product decisions --  on likes/dislikes, what outcomes the buyers were looking for and experiencing. The companies to the right, and many fast-moving consumer goods companies in the 20th century were customer focused... before it was popular.

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