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By Johan Carstens, EMEIA Manufacturing & Automotive CTO at Fujitsu

It’s time for manufacturers to focus on consumer engagement – here’s how

The relationship between manufacturers and consumers is changing.

Ethical and environmental concerns are driving today’s consumers to learn more about the provenance of the products they are buying.

Meanwhile, manufacturers are increasingly keen to understand how consumers are using the things they make.

Consumer Recognition Technology (CRT) can provide answers to these questions. It opens up a new conversation between manufacturers and consumers so that both can make better decisions.

Let’s explore how consumer engagement can work in this way – and how you can make it a successful part of your business.

 

Who? What? Where? When?

One third of UK consumers claim to be very concerned about issues regarding the origin of the products they buy and use.

When people pick up a product, they want to know:

  • Where it is from
  • How it was made
  • What is in it (especially for comestible goods)
  • That it was produced ethically, sustainably and safely

Manufacturers have to make this kind of information available to the consumer in a quick, accessible way.

This is where near field communication (NFC) technology comes in. Products can be tagged with an NFC chip which holds all the relevant information about where they come from.

Consumers activate the tag using their phones or a smart device, which will take them to a website with all the relevant product information on it.

They’ll be able to see a detailed record looking something like this:

  • The origin of the product and batch number
  • Was it from sustainable sources
  • How it was transported and under what conditions
  • How the workers were rewarded for producing the products
  • How you can recycle the waste products
  • How the environment is being looked after
  • How are you making this product specific to me and my needs?

This makes the product more informative & engaging for the consumer and is an effective way to generate consumer loyalty for brands.

And it has additional benefits to the manufacturers too. Manufacturers can gain insight into the type of person that is buying their product and their demographics.

Do they tend to be male or female? What’s their average age? General consumer behaviour including place of purchase etc…  This kind of information is really valuable to manufacturers.

It allows consumers to inform themselves about the products they want, brings manufacturers closer to their target market – so they can make product improvements – or bring out new ones – in line with demand.

 

A richer form of consumer engagement

As a manufacturer, you want to know why the consumer is buying your product, how they are using it, and where it’s going. You get this information by asking customers – however this is often hard to do where manufacturers are so typically removed from the end users of their products. In the case of some industries, manufacturers are actually restricted from talking to their customers by strict regulations.

Now, manufacturers can take advantage of the Rich Communication Services (RCS) which are emerging as the replacement to SMS.

RCS is a better way for businesses to interact with their consumers. It offers a wider range of features, since it is able to host video, and easily accessible web links. A user could click-to-buy all from within one message.

Similarly, Rich Communication Services provide confidence that the sender is authentic to a potential customer. Companies have to buy a licence to use the services, which stops spammers creating false accounts. And, as another bonus, the RCS language is standardised – so when you send an emoji of a smiling face, recipients receive the exact face you originally sent, and not the phone carrier’s version. Read my previous blog on the topic of RCS here.

 

Meaningful communication is a two-way street

RCS is a good option for companies that have to seize any opportunity they have to engage with customers.

This is particularly important for manufacturers, since the average consumer just isn’t in the habit of interacting with these kinds of organizations.

If you are a Manchester United fan, for example, a manufacturer can use RCS to tell you: ‘We know that Manchester United is playing on Tuesday, so here’s a deal for you at a shop near the stadium’.

This kind of communication is valuable for both the customer – who is alerted to personalised discounts that help them save – and the manufacturer – who can promote their products and raise sales.

And because RCS provides multiple communication formats, manufacturers can have a real and meaningful conversation with their customers.

They can even advise customers to change to a new brand or a new type of product that may be better for them – say, for example, a healthier option, or something more in line with their needs.

RCS makes this deeper form of customer engagement possible – and everybody stands to benefit.

 

Getting the information to those who want it

The important element that these technologies have that enable them to improve consumer engagement is transparency.

When a consumer is fully informed about what they are buying, they can make better choices. A better choice will result in greater product satisfaction in the long run.

And where this might have been difficult for manufacturers before, technology is making it easier. NFC tagging is a short-cut for consumers to learn about the supply chain, and RCS is a platform for meaningful communication to take place.

Ultimately, it’s all about creating a space for dialogue between those who make and those who consume products and managing this in a way that keeps consumers at the core of your business.

Opening up this conversation will lead to many benefits being uncovered for both parties – some of which we can’t even imagine yet.

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Johan Carstens

Johan Carstens

EMEIA Manufacturing & Automotive CTO at Fujitsu EMEIA
Johan is one of our senior leaders that drive our customers to embrace digital solutions, prepare their business for new challenges and set new standard in Manufacturing and Automotive.

Johan inspires our customers to think of new ways of applying technology to traditional business functions and revolutionise the way they operate to increase productivity and prepare for the future.

Excellence in Delivery. Trust and reliability is the key to delivering world class solutions every day. He achieves this through delivering long term digital technology strategies that address new business opportunities and challenges. His solutions bring technology closer to the business and increase financial awareness in IT to achieve the commercial business drivers, whilst improving the effectiveness, productivity and business processes.
Johan Carstens

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