Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jan Chipchase at CGAP Clients at the Center

by IMTFI External Advisory Board member Jan Chipchase
Getting A Shave: Lagos, Nigeria by Jan Chipchase
What struck me about the recent CGAP Clients at the Center Convening Event in Washington DC on December 1, 2011 was the extent to which its focus  – to better understand customers, to turn customer insights into something that meaningfully changes the products/services being offered – is echoed by the challenges faced by our commercial clients. 

Pretty much every organisation recognises the need to understand their customers – whether it's to better serve their existing needs; deliver new products and services; or slightly less charitably to understand how responsive they are going to be to changes in price. There are many ways to gain a rich and nuanced understanding of the customer – and increasingly people are turning to rich ethnographic studies to compliment more data driven approaches. 

For consumer research to be impactful it needs to: have a clear client in the organisation – someone with a stake in its outcome; it needs to be soluble – in a format fit for consumption; and most importantly needs to inform and inspire the organisation beyond what it knows. Basic I know, but so-often missing when the person commissioning the research or the team that implements it lacks imagination and the willingness to put themselves on the line. Good research will communicate basic drivers, segmentation models, can reframe the value proposition; all the way through to the positioning of the brand. This is only part of the story – the organisation needs to be structured in such a way to take advantage of what they learn – the decision makers need to be in the room to absorb and act on the results.

The IMTFI is funding new projects – looking forward to researchers pushing the boundaries for another year.

CGAP Deputy CEO, Alexia Latortue has a full write-up of the event.

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