Customer experience is the new marketing battleground says new WARC survey

The “customer experience’ bandwagon marches on with a new Toolkit 2018 survey from researcher WARC saying that 53 per cent of brands and 58 per cent of agency respondents reckon it’s the key to “digital transformation.” All of which helps the big consultancies more than agencies as they compete for client budgets in a period of low sales growth, fragmented communications and commoditised products.

WARC head of content David Tiltman says: “Many companies are now actively making efforts to improve CX through a better use of data and more rigorous attempts to ‘map’ the customer journey..once a marketer understands the most important connections and touchpoints influencing customer behaviour, these insights can inform everything from product development to communications planning.”

Large global management consultancies – including Accenture, Deloitte, IBM, KPMG, McKinsey and PwC – are acquiring creative talent and digital capabilities to offer CMOs end-to-end data, marketing and customer experience services. In this model creativity forms part of a broader chain of services.

Accenture Interactive MD Mark Sherwin says: “Experience is the battleground for brands today. I think we can all broadly agree on that. Consumers and even business buyers have the ability to pick and choose more freely than ever. And industries are being disrupted constantly to give new choices.

“Any given person is only a ‘customer’ for a small percentage of their life. To create more meaningful experiences (we need to) appeal to them as the people that they are for the 99 per cent of the time, not the customer they are for the one per cent.”

All of which sets a poser for conventional agencies, almost regardless of whether it’s true or not. The fact that lots of people think it is is changing the marketplace quite dramatically.

Accenture has made considerable inroads into the agency space – Accenture Interactive claims to be the world’s biggest digital agency with about $6bn in revenues – and the even bigger IBM recently reported the first rise in revenue for several years.

What such companies are selling is a new version of the old full service (less media, usually). As the ad holding companies have fragmented their offer with the formation and acquisition of numerous specialist outfits the consultancies are scoring by offering everything in one place.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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