What does today’s consumer want?

Business owners who survived The Great Recession are recognizing that the consumers who were influenced by the disruption are behaving differently from the past. Retail formulas such as mass advertising that used to work don’t have the same effectiveness in an age where every customer has a smart phone and the ability to quickly and authoritatively research the price, quality and availability of what they want.

Blis, a company that sells location data technology to big retailers has published a survey that, nevertheless, can be informative to small business owners and even those outside the B2C world.

One of the most interesting insights is their reinterpretation of the pyramid popularized by psychologist Abraham Maslow’s research in his “hierarchy of needs.”

At the base of the pyramid, according to the survey, is product quality. If you can’t satisfy this demand, your business is not even in the game. The next level up is price, followed by “availability and the ease of obtaining your product.”  As a former retailer, I interpret this to mean having items in stock and being easy to do business with. One can see this in the trend toward online shopping with one click, and the demand for quick shipping and no fuss returns.

The fourth step up the pyramid contains perceived value and trust. Perceived value (“value for my money”) and price are very different concepts in the retail world. And I find it interesting that the research suggests that price is beating out value. (Remember what’s at the bottom of the pyramid are the foundational characteristics that must be met. Items farther up the pyramid are important but are the secondary considerations.) 

Being a trustworthy supplier to customers is near the top of the chart which is capped by what they call “brand morals.” It’s how consumers perceive your firm’s values and how well they align with their own.  

Satisfy all of these needs for your customers and you’ve got their loyalty. 

— Frederick Welk
CEDF Business Advisor


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