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Do you focus on your core customers?

Do you focus on your core customers?

A recent study from The CMO Club and IBM showed that CMOs were finally shifting resources from customer acquisition to retention and loyalty. The benefits of retention have been well documented over the years, and with customers today so easily able to share their opinions, it's become even more essential for every brand to look after its core customers.

This is just as true for supermarkets: After all, 60%-70% of turnover is typically accounted for by only 20% of customers. And the growing number of new or revamped loyalty programs does indeed suggest a renewed focus on retention.

However, looking after core customers is more than just a loyalty program. Here's a simple health check I like to use to gauge a company’s focus on their core customers:

1. How well do we know our core customers?
The start point is to know who they are, and what their value is to the brand. And in a world where opinions are so easily shared, it's also increasingly important to understand the value of their social networks.

2. How well do we understand them?
The key here is to understand what specific needs the brand fulfills for them. Are we just a convenient or rational choice, or do they feel a greater sense of belonging?

3. Do we make our core customers feel appreciated?
This is where a loyalty program comes in as a reward, but it needs to make them feel special to really generate a sense of appreciation. And our understanding of them should be leading us to personalize the experience we give them.

4. Do they drive our customer experience?
Using the insights they provide, and involving them in developing the customer experience, both strengthens the relationship, and ensures the experience is always getting better.

5. Are we loyal to them?
They became core customers because the brand fulfills a particular role in their lives. Do we stay true to the reason they signed up in the first place, even when it comes to the difficult decisions?

What this really entails is a focus on core customers as an approach to business, rather than just a marketing program.

How does your business measure up?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at

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