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what is the Human-Centric Marketing concept?

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The concept of Human-Centric Marketing refers to a new marketing approach that puts the human being at the centre of its strategy, not the customer. Human-Centric means precisely that, putting the human at the centre. But what is the difference between human and customer and why has marketing evolved towards this trend?

Human Vs Customer

Marketing has evolved a lot over the decades, especially in recent decades. While there has already been a major shift in the main objective of the sales team, this has now happened again.

Initially, the product was at the centre of the strategy, hence the 4Ps of marketing (Product, Price, Place and Promotion). This theory, outlined by the American accountant Jerome McCarthy, was superseded by a new approach in the 1990s that placed the consumer, rather than the product, at the centre of the approach. The four main elements were then referred to as the 4Cs of marketing (Consumer, Communication, Convenience and Cost) .

The fundamental change consists of changing the starting point from product-centric to customer-centric. The strategy no longer revolves around the designed product that the customer must obtain, but now focuses on the study of the customer, for whom a specific product is created, adapted to his or her needs and tastes.

Recently there has been a small leap forward: although the customer or consumer is still at the centre of the approach, he is no longer thought of as just a human being making a purchase, but his desires and personality are studied as a human being as a whole.

This change in the perception of consumers consists of:

  • Viewing users as people: Humanising the customer is the most important part of this new strategy, which no longer considers them as an animated subject with a salary and willing to spend in our company, but as a human being, with values, feelings and desires that are taken into account in the development of the product and the sale.
  • Customers are no longer passive, but active. They have the power to make demands and are willing to demand what they consider basic. This power of pressure on the company is something quite recent, the result of the large amount of existing supply. The customer, moreover, will fight for them if they are not met, now they are the ones who set the guidelines.
  • They are interactive: company-customer communication is increasingly richer, more frequent and more important. Customer participation in company research is essential to be able to design the product or service they want, as well as post-sales and social listening.

Therefore, the image of the Buyer Persona has changed in some aspects, and has become more personal than ever. We are now talking about a profile of someone whose ethical and moral values are at the forefront of their search. They are no longer looking for a warm jumper, but one that, in addition to that, is environmentally friendly.

The application of the Human-Centric concept in the company

The brand is now trying to export an image that conveys human values and ethical commitments. It is no longer just a company oriented towards profitability and profit from its products and services. While these cannot (and should not) be lost sight of, in terms of sales strategy, much of the energy is focused on social and ethical commitments.

A good way to summarise this approach would be to point out that a company no longer "creates products but creates value". Other slogans such as "this brand is a way of life" or "beyond a brand" have also become very famous. Any message that goes beyond the economic barrier and goes into the sentimental and human.

With the purchase, the customer takes away something on a personal and internallevel that goes beyond what he has bought. He does not just buy a jumper, but with that action he has contributed to generating a change in the world. He chooses the brand, therefore, with which he feels he shares certain values.

The new pillars that a company with a Human-centric approach embraces are the following:

  • Empathy
  • Kindness
  • Reciprocity
  • Compassion: Companies sometimes decide to donate part of their profits to an organisation or cause in need of funds. The customer will be more willing to make a donation if they know that they also get some benefit in return. Recent examples include the Covid-19 pandemic or the invasion of Ukraine.
  • Justice: social justice, climate justice - companies are committed to joining European or international initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

One of the main characteristics of today's industrial production is delocalisation. The factories where goods are produced are located in other countries (usually other continents) than those where they are designed and consumed. In these countries, where legislation is more vague, if not non-existent, workers do not enjoy the same legal protection. Part of the human-centric commitment is to empathise with others, as well as with the planet .

This can only be achieved through increased efforts in R&D and customer communication, which is becoming a much more personalised experience. This change is achieved through a lot of consultation, up-to-date databases, observation and listening, opportunity analysis, strategic planning and execution, and so on.

It is, in essence, about creating a more human and conscious relationship across companies. The most common outcomes of incorporating this type of strategy are:

  • Change in the concept of value. What is considered successful has changed. It is not only and exclusively about selling en masse at the lowest cost to achieve a higher profit. Other aspects such as empathy or social and climate awareness become part of the concept of success even if it translates into a reduction in economic profit.
  • Internal changes in the company: A human-centric approach can never be implemented only from the outside. A transversal application of the approach is necessary, which also translates into more personal attention to employees, suppliers, etc. It must also be applied to all areas of the company, which is achieved through many consultations and updated databases,
  • Results are more difficult to measure. If success is not reduced only to the economic-numerical, the task of determining whether an exercise has been satisfactorily resolved becomes more complicated. There is therefore more room for subjectivity, as well as the need to change the KPIs of the company.
  • Increased sales: the human-centric approach is, after all, a way of differentiating between competitors. The customer will always choose the option that offers the most guarantees and benefits, even if, as in this case, not all of them are person-centred.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: The other side of globalisation is to be aware of all the atrocities that occur in the world. The customer may feel that, through participation in a company, he or she is contributing to improving global inequalities or conflicts that he or she would not be able to help individually.

However, there is a great danger in this approach: Greenwashing, i.e. the empty appearance by and for marketing. Although greenwashing is a concept closely linked to the environmental struggle, it is applicable to human-centric marketing. Greenwashing is an attempt to explain how a company can use a social or environmental activism campaign solely as a way to improve its image, without this actually translating into tangible, real change.

Therefore, Human-Centric Marketing can become a double-edged sword, whose authenticity can only be combated with transparency and traceability.

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