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Ears Open: Listeners of 2007

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At the beginning of this month I posed a question to all of you Peelers. I wanted to find out what company or organization you thought showed that they were truly listening to their customers in 2007.

The results are in. (Thanks to everyone that responded!)

We received some interesting responses. I surprised by a couple of things that did and didn’t show up in the responses:

  1. There was only one repeat name on the list, and it was Facebook nonetheless, which has received some loud criticisms as of late.
  2. The Idea that truly listening can mean discovering you are on a dead end road and should say sayonara to some customers.
  3. The statement, “was forced to listen.
  4. The number of small businesses that showed up in the companies named .
  5. Companies named came from a large variety of different industries.

You can read all of the responses below.

Agree? Disagree? Did anyone get overlooked?

 

Brett McCoy, Marketing Manager at HMH

His Pick: Toyota Scion

They speak to a very specific target market in very unique and interesting way’s. Even as sales increase with people outside of there target demo Scion continues to stay dead fast with their efforts. They know who they want, and continue to go after them. Most importantly, they are have a relevant message that speaks to their target market.

 

Hernan Cuevas, CEO at NYCO

His Picks: Jet Blue & Virgin

Jet Blue: I believe their prompt response after the flight delay crisis and assuming full responsibility placed them very high on the list.

Virgin: They are offering pretty much what every frequent traveler expects in a transcontinental flight. Now, let’s see if they can be profitable and remain in business.

 

Hamish Taylor, Consultant at Shinergise Partners Ltd.

His Pick: Procter & Gamble

They continue to grow year on year by launching products that their consumers want to buy – the parallel mantras instilled by AG Lafley of “The Consumer is Boss” and “Winning the Moments of Truth” are brilliantly simple in their succintness and simply brilliant in terms of execution.

Great consumer listeners and consequently great consumer products.  

 

Terri L Maurer, Planning and Strategies Consultant at Maurer Consulting & Maurer Design Group

Her Picks: Facebook, Smaller Airlines

Considering the news today (12-07-07), I’d say that Facebook was forced to listen!

A number of the smaller airlines seem to be doing a good job of implementing services that the major carriers have eliminated and alienated their customers…Southwest, AirTran and Frontier are several that I’ve had some experience with that has been far better than any of the ‘majors’ have done in quite some time.   

 

Jeff Hester, Principal & Creative Director at Hester Designs


His Pick: Auto Craft

Auto Craft, who make products for Fallbrook/NuVinci has Listen to the Customer meetings every week. They keep a continual living document going for every client contact regarding their products. Because they develop cutting edge technology that will be used daily on a global scale, they like to keep close tabs on products and customers.

 

Nathania Johnson, Senior Editor at Bold Interactive

Her Pick: Dell

I blogged about the process of buying a new laptop. I bought a Dell, and they participated in commenting on my blog and even contacting me privately.

They’ve created a website where people can make recommendations for their products. It’s a brilliant way to find out what consumers really want.

Dell employees are on Twitter and comment on other blogs as well.

And they’re reaping the rewards. I can’t remember the stats, but they’ve seen a big turnaround in their favor as far as their reputation is concerned.

Oh and my laptop is awesome!

 

Isabelle Bertrand, Independent Marketing & Advertising Professional

Her Picks: The Green Bandwagon, Healthy foods, Nivea

I would say that companies jumping on the Green bandwagon are listening to consumers. Examples include:

Ikea: they are now charging customers 5cents a bag to encourage customers to cut back on plastic bag usage and also sell the $1 reusable bag. Pretty much most well branded retailers such as Loblaws, Maxi, Pharmaprix, Lasenza offer customers reusable bags. Not only is this creating a positive image in customers minds, but it also creates mini walking billboards for these companies who still make a nice profit at selling the bags in the $1 to $3 price range. Some companies do however donate the profits to charities.

Health eating is another major trend. Just salad (which is a fast food joint found in malls) is listening to customers by offering a product which caters to health conscious shoppers, it’s fast, convenient and couldn’t be healthier.

Nivea – offering skincare line targetted to men.

 

Jonah Hughes, Chief Consumer Coach at EXITA.com

His Pick: Sprint

Sprint nixed a thousand or so annoying customers. A bold move such as this deserves a round of applause. (SFX: APPLAUSE). I suppose that Sprint must have been truly listening to these OCD pests to discern that they were, indeed, pests.

 

Karen Brunke, Contract Coordinator/Procurement Analyst at Centocor

Her Pick: Apple

I would say Apple is a company that’s listening to consumers. For example, the iPhone. Consumers wanted a phone that was intuitive, user-friendly, and could combine several electronic gadgets in one. Although I’ve heard that the iPhone still has some quirks to work out, most people who have iPhones really love them. They can surf the web, listen to music, email, text, and talk all with one device instead of several. Plus their commercials are informative, simple and straightforward. Now if Apple can find a way to bring down the price, I would happily buy an iPhone.

My Response: What would you say to those that question Apples iPhone price drop not long after it’s release? Was their 100 in store credit enough to show they were listening, or was this just a slap in the face?

I wouldn’t say it was a slap in the face, however it was poor timing on Apple’s part. I’d say that in that case it was a bad marketing move strategically. I’m sure that move did make consumers angry and cause consumers not to buy iPhones. It will be interesting to see what the final fallout is for the iPhone as a result of that bad marketing move.

 

David Gillespie, Project Manager & Digital Strategist at Hippo Jobs

His Pick: Facebook

I tend to think that people aren’t always entirely sure what they want, they just know what they don’t like. The iPhone was just mentioned as an example of a company listening to consumers, and while the device itself is hard to fault, the way it has been brought to market is completely out of step with Apple’s usual focus on user-centricity. The business arrangements around the device could not be less consumer friendly.

The best example I can think of in recent times is the rollercoaster ride that Facebook has been on. The only time they’ve needed to listen to consumers is when they’ve gotten on the wrong side of them, but they’ve been quick to listen and alter what they were doing, even when it affected a core component of their business model. Not everyone is in the position Facebook is, but it sets an interesting precedent – how many other companies can you think of that would fundamentally alter their plans based on .04% of their user base petitioning them?

In terms of listening to and involving the community in your product development though, I just read this article and it is well worth the time! – User Community and ROI

 

Colin Valdiserri, Chairman & CEO at Informed Decisions Group, Inc.

His Pick: OXO (a housewares company)

Obviously Apple creates some of the best consumer products, but I have heard that they conduct little if any consumer research to understand needs. Their greatest strength is truly thinking outside of the box in understanding that the iPod is not just a portable music player, but a totally new entertainment experience.

OXO, a housewares company that targets the kitchen utensils and gadgets market has revolutionized products that you would never think could be innovated. Their ethnography observations/analysis has uncovered drastic innovations from measuring cups to can openers and spatulas to name a few.

It is apparent that OXO owns the innovation position in their market. Being that they were the first to seriously concentrate on consumers, not just listening, but applying science to consumer observations, their competition has been extremely unsuccessful in trying to steal that position from OXO. 

 

Jenny Hester, Verbal Artist & Marketing Strategist at Hester Designs

Her Pick: Discount Dance Supply

Discount Dance Supply sells dancewear for children, teens and adults through online sales and print catalogs. This year, the company held a model search and selected 10 finalists. The finalists, dancers in their early teens to twenties, were featured on their website. They then emailed all catalog subscribers to vote for their favorite model to represent the catalog and its dancewear in 2008. This company competes with other discount dancewear companies selling the same brands and items.

The consumer-chosen model is a great marketing approach that more deeply connects consumers to Discount Dance Supply and gives them another reason to check out their products in 2008.

 

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