Customer-Centricity, the Dunnhumby Way

NEW YORK Despite their presumed importance to retailers, customers may be the least utilized asset most companies have, said Matt Nitzberg, vice president, global manufacturer practice leader, Dunnhumby USA. Dunnhumby USA, a 50-50 partnership between U.K.-based Dunnhumby and Kroger, Cincinnati, has worked with Kroger on its loyalty card program since 2002, creating major direct-mail campaigns based

NEW YORK — Despite their presumed importance to retailers, “customers may be the least utilized asset most companies have,” said Matt Nitzberg, vice president, global manufacturer practice leader, Dunnhumby USA.

Dunnhumby USA, a 50-50 partnership between U.K.-based Dunnhumby and Kroger, Cincinnati, has worked with Kroger on its loyalty card program since 2002, creating major direct-mail campaigns based on loyalty data.

Speaking at the National Retail Federation's 99th Annual Convention and Expo here earlier this month, Nitzberg said that most retailers can't answer the following four questions: Which customers matter the most? What do they buy? How much do they buy? Why do they buy what they buy?

“Even if they can answer these questions, most retailers can't take the next step and figure out how to make the transition to giving those customers who matter the most more of what they want and creating a more relevant shopping experience,” said Nitzberg.

The reason most companies focus more on the store or the brand than on the customer, is that customer-centricity requires a “fairly wrenching change,” said Nitzberg. He outlined the steps required to make this change:

  • Commit the chief executive officer to changing the culture.

  • Answer the four questions above.

  • Treat customer insight “as the fuel for everything you do.”

  • Move to insight-level collaboration with trading partners.

  • Create targeted, brilliantly executed, customer communications so that the customer says, “This store really gets me.”

  • Pursue continuous improvement and measurement.