For the majority of marketers across the globe, customer value is pivotal to whether or not they will achieve their company’s promotional objectives. It is important to address both the needs and wants of the consumer, whether it be “functional”, “symbolic”, “experiential” or “cost focused” (Smith & Colgate, 2007) . Many businesses nowadays attend to these factors by marketing themselves in a unique way, in order to engage with current and potential customers. For example, T2 “encapsulates the idea of discovery and enchantment with its bold use of colour” as a way of attracting customers and separating themselves from their competition. Their friendly and inviting in-store relation with customers, combined with their ability to offer products to customers based on their individual needs as well as their expansive loyalty program, function as a clever marketing tool to increase customer retention and satisfaction. The marketing team at T2 have managed to secure their place at the forefront of modern marketing intelligence, and it is clear to see why.
The Importance of Marketing
The essence of marketing is different to in every organisation across the globe. Some marketers believe it involves building brand equity by establishing a sufficient branch network, whilst others are convinced it primarily exists to solve communication issues or convince a client that they are buying the best product by influencing their perception towards said product via advertising campaigns and promotions. A commonly supported idea is that marketing is about understanding the voice of their customer, their needs and addressing such needs through product development. Experts are also divided on the true principle of marketing. Kotler (1983, p.7) describes marketing as a “human activity directed at satisfying needs and wants through exchange processes”. Meanwhile, the American Marketing Association (2013) outlines that “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”.
As with many brands, a prime aspiration is to stay ahead of the game, that is, distinguish themselves from their opponents. The Global Marketing Director for T2, Jane Hoban, consistently asks the question “Would another brand do this?” in regards to product offers and brand communication. If so, they seek other options. At the centre of the company is the motto “Tea done differently”, which perfectly describes their quirky and innovative marketing approach. By establishing certain brand icons such as the bright orange box or shopping bag and vibrant store designs, Hoban (2017) and her team strive to create visual merchandising in every store that showcases that “beautifully curated chaos”. Both the idiosyncratic and energetic aesthetic of the stores and packaging, matched with inventive and fresh tea flavours make for an engaging marketing style and strategy. Hogan (as cited in Staggs, 2017) further explains that “these are points of difference that the business has worked hard to maintain all their touch points across the world”.
Many companies tend to question the competitive value of marketing; whether or not it is worth the use of resources. After all, there is no guarantee that a certain marketing approach will offer an outstanding advantage for the company and secure them more customers and a greater piece of the market pie. However, various marketing experts such as Richard C. Leventhal (2005) continue to argue that a “market drive strategy allowed a company to truly understand its market and the customers that are the basis for this market”, which in turn provides the company with a “more effective integration of all activities that may impact customer value”, therefore also influencing both the company’s return-on-investment and profitability. Considering that a manager’s main objective is to ensure and maintain the success of the business through steady sales and satisfying shareholders, it is without doubt that marketing should also play a vital role in the ongoing growth of the business.
The Importance of Customer Value
Additionally, customer value is another important aspect of a company’s marketing strategy. According to Burns and Woodruff (1992), “customer value represents all that a customer perceives to give (money, time, energy) for all that he or she gets”. Others assert that a company ‘focused on creating customer value knows what its customers want and then systematically examines all of the elements that need to be in place to create and deliver that value” (Baker, Klein & Mark, 2003). Generally, the overarching idea between each definition of the term is that customer value represents what they “get” (benefits) relative to what they have to “give up” (costs or sacrifices) (Zeithaml 1988, as cited in Smith & Colgate, 2007). The age-old mantra that “the customer is always right” (Leventhal, 2005) has been applied as a focal point for many organisations throughout the years, because, as according to academic researcher Richard C. Leventhal (2005), “in order to achieve a true market orientation, a company needs to make the customer the epicentre of its business perspective”.
Retrospectively, T2 takes pride in being what Jane Hogan describes as ‘an experiential brand’, meaning that it engages their consumers by immersing them in memorable live experiences. The main experience customers have is within the T2 store with a team member – the imperative brand asset who’s role it is to turn customers into promoters of the brand. T2 focuses on satisfying customer’s experiential needs through a scheme known as the LEAF process (Learn, Explore, Add Value and Forever T2). This marketing theory of “inspiring the next generation of tea lovers” (Hogan, 2017) involves a two part process. Firstly, team member begin by attempting to understand why the customer has entered the store and then help them explore what’s on offer. With over 200 different flavoured teas, T2 also addresses the functional, symbolic and expressive values of consumers, as everyone should be able to discover the product that best suits their interest, with the assistance of a knowledgeable employee, which ties into the second step in which such employees aim to “add value”, which is done by giving “brewing or storage tips or sharing a bit of history around the tea”. Before the customer leaves the store satisfied with their purchase, they are asked to enrol in the loyalty program (known as ‘The Tea Society’) which is the company’s “primary retention tool” (Hogan, as cited in Staggs, 2017). By inviting each and every customer to this community of tea lovers, T2 is intentionally targeting the symbolic and expressive customer values of self-identity and worth, self-expression, social and personal meaning. This loyalty program continues communication with the customer by sharing news and inviting them back, proving useful for management of course, as this ultimately increases sales and thus profitability.
The Correlation between Marketing and Customer Value
Marketing ties in very closely with customer value. Every organisation exists to provide customers with value, and marketers exist to express this customer focus by “creating and managing demand, discovering customer needs and wants, creating customer satisfaction…” (Baker, Klein & Mark, 2003) and so forth. Customer value can be described as the result of actualising the marketing concept, with the marketing concept being the company’s philosophical orientation and customer value existing as the preferred result. The renowned, Australian tea brand, T2, utilises social media such as Facebook and Instagram as their primary communication network between customers. It allows them to stay authentic and engage with them through a “collection of quirky insights, mini campaigns and shots that align the product with high end fashion accessories” (Anonymous, 2015). Unlike a website, these platforms are the customer’s environment. This exemplifies the importance of utilising a customer-value oriented marketing approach. Connecting with the consumer personally and therefore entertaining their social needs is a brilliant marketing procedure to ensure that the customer returns to the stores. The sense of community this builds, with help from the Tea Society program, strengthens the passion and love for the brand. Again, T2 using the “engaging power of great aesthetics” to provide customers with a store feel that is “premium but welcoming” (Singline, 2015). Not only that, T2 gives consumers an experience like that of entering a wine cellar – the process of tasting the product and allowing them to identify their desired style of beverage. Such a welcoming and enticing event places more value upon the products and the brand itself in the eyes of the customer. Through understanding what the customer values, such as a community atmosphere or new, exciting products or even packaging and products with a bold and quirky colour palette as a form of self-expression, a business will build a loyal customer base interested in what the business will do next.
Marketing plays an ongoing role in the success of a business, however when customer value is placed at the core of all marketing strategies, that’s when a company can begin to continually and thrivingly satisfy the needs of all stakeholders. As Jane Hogan from T2 (2017) states; “to have a great brand, you truly need to know your customer and have them at the heart of your brand proposition. You must be thinking about your customer’s needs and how your brand can address those needs and fit into their life. If you can crack that, that’s when you’ve truly got an amazing brand that can help you do better than anybody else”.
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