The Era of the Spoiled Consumer

Just the other day I was attending a presentation by an airline. They wanted to demonstrate through some charts and several examples that they manage to cater every kind of customer through their range of offers. Their customers love it.

Now, while I was listening to this – and how they created A to reach customer segment A, B to reach customer segment B, etc. - two things came to my mind. First, that it is impressive that an airline goes through all these efforts to please every single group of customers (e.g., families, adults, young adults, kids and so on). Secondly, that we - the consumers - are so spoiled that it almost makes me sick.

We are fickle beings who got used to the fact that a lot of companies out there believe that ‘the client out there is always right’ and they will move mountains for us (in some cases).

Bear in mind: I am not complaining and I also know that there are companies out there who rarely have their clients and their satisfaction in mind.

Nonetheless, on the other hand, one can say that companies have slowly spoiled us over the years. Technology has only made this easier and now we are in the situation where some services are so customer-centric that it’s just too much. To make an analogy, the evolution in this has been similar to the fact that we moved from 20y ago, when it was okay for teachers to be verbally brutal to students, to now, where the headmaster gets a complaint from the family of ‘the brutalized’ child and might lose his job.

Let’s take the example of an airline:

I buy a ticket to fly from A to B. This is pretty much it. Of course, I want some kind of service in this (depending on how much I paid), but to be honest I don’t really care for instance what is on TV for long haul flights, because chances are I will have my laptop. Therefore, the fact that there are TV programs trying to reach everyone, doesn’t really make the difference for me. What instead does the difference (and so many here could learn a thing or two) is how I get treated when something bad happens.

A trivial example is that the other day my flight to Rome was delayed 4 hours. It was a low cost airline that I normally don’t dislike. However, the fact that they gave everyone vouchers for 3pounds (a coffee) for a wait of 4h and not even a free drink in the plane, looks just stingy and ridiculous.

If I can, I will not fly with this airline anymore. And I think that this goes without saying for the other passengers. I don’t care – again - that their inflight magazine might have content to please us all. For all I care, I don’t want a cool magazine. I want to fly home on time or be compensated if I don’t.

Long story short: whilst it is important to care about your customers and try to develop offers and content that pleases almost every one of them, what actually needs to be remembered is ‘to do what you do and do it well’.

Let’s start with the basics rather than fuelling the levels of catering and spoiling on things we don’t need.

About the author:

Francesco Granati works in the Investment Team of an out of home specialist media agency based in London called PSI Advertising. He mostly deals with advertising in airports worldwide and his academic background includes a MSc in Persuasive Communication at the University of Amsterdam.

Contact: Granati.francesco@gmail.com

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