Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Look Behind The Customer Numbers

Last year when I attended Innocent's first AGM, there was a lot of heated discussion about their test-marketing smoothies within McDonald's outlets. This was an act that certain evangelistic customers seemed to feel was a betrayal of their ethical principles.

Thus, at Innocent's second AGM this weekend, there was an expectation of a lot of dissent regarding the recent sale of a slice of the business to Coca Cola. That it didn't really materialise was a reminder that noise does not equate to strength of feeling. Later, in discussion with one of the founders, it emerged that they had received 260 complaints. For a compamy with sales of 100 million smoothies a year, that's a very small number.

I've always said that to create a great product/service, it's imperative to focus on eliminating annoyances for your customers, but you also have to keep the numbers in perspective. It's what lies behind them that counts - as evidenced by another number that I discovered. Specifically that, on their ninth birthday, 38 customers chose of their own volition to send birthday cakes to the company.

260 complaints versus 38 birthday cakes. I know which number I find more compelling.


Blogger Robert said...

This is a great post - really great.

We live in a World of the uber-hypocrite ... where many people criticise companies for any small act and yet, in the same breath, they demand ever increasing returns on the shares.

That doesn't mean a company can't behave well and still make oodles of cash, but like you said - too often companies are so shit scared of their shareholders that even one complaint out of a million can have them scurrying backwards for fear of upsetting more.

As my marketing teacher once told me ... people who write into 'Points Of View' aren't the general public, they're a specific type of individual ... just like people who complain to companies about something or other, aren't representative of all shareholders, just a particular type of one ... and so keeping a wider perspective on things isn't just a smart thing to do, it's in the best interests of the wider shareholder masses.

6:13 PM, May 19, 2009  
Blogger peggy said...

not everyone who likes or dislikes things is writing to a company directly. i think many things (happen by word-of-mouth and) are realised in purchasing decisions. therefore, numbers seem to be less important than the expressed views in the messages. they can be a valuable indicator in terms of reputation/issue management.

looking at the image side of things and what innocent stands for - i do not think it was a good move to partner up with coca-cola. on the other hand and on first sight, it seems to be good for coca-cola to have innocent in their portfolio.

12:33 PM, May 20, 2009  
Blogger john dodds said...

By same token, not everyone who likes what a company is doing makes that explicitly clear.

4:23 PM, May 20, 2009  
Anonymous Angus said...

Wait. You attended the Innocent AGM? Wow. That's great.

9:43 PM, June 01, 2009  
Blogger john dodds said...

Yes Angus, it was a great tonic after the dreary brunch companion I had to endure earlier.

5:00 AM, June 02, 2009  

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