The Problem With Product-Centric Marketing

Man holding up a red sneaker

The difference between product-centric and customer-centric brand marketing can make a profound difference.

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A common trap that businesses and brands fall into in their marketing is becoming too product-centric.

Product-centric marketing is a natural outcome of business processes. You invest significant time and resources into developing great products that your customers love. And, based on that investment, focusing your competitive advantage on product is the default approach.

Here’s the problem with that approach: your customers’ needs aren’t centered around your product or service.

Products come and go based on trends, technology, economics and other external factors. As a result, product-centric brands (think Polaroid, Blockbuster, and Blackberry) are more susceptible to shifts in consumer preferences and market influences.

Products Change, People Remain 

Customer-centric marketing is a much more powerful and sustainable approach. Power brands like Disney, Apple, and Starbucks have customer-centric marketing in common.

  • Disney isn’t a theme park brand – they make their customers’ dreams come true.
  • Apple isn’t a computer or smartphone brand – they empower their customers to connect and express their individuality.
  • Starbucks isn’t a coffee shop brand – they bring people and communities together around shared experiences.

The difference between product-centric and customer-centric brand marketing may seem like semantics, but this subtle shift in thinking can make a profound difference.

The three brands above don’t just talk about being customer-centric. Everything they do is based on their focused vision on customers. And the value they derive from a customer-centric approach is clear:

  • Customer-centric brands deliver more tangible value, supporting a stronger price position.
  • Customer-centric brands transfer value to new products and services, enabling them to stay relevant through changing customer preferences.
  • Customer-centric brands build long-term value, providing a primary advantage over competitive businesses.

Is your marketing product-centric or customer-centric? Don’t fall into the trap of building a product-centric brand.

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