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IHG urges brands to address the needs of new-age customers

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InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has launched its 2017 trends report – The Uncompromising Customer: Addressing the Paradoxes of the ‘Age of I’ – at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. The report highlights the uncompromising nature of today’s customer who increasingly expects brands to deliver experiences that satisfy contradictory needs.

IHG’s research identifies four paradoxes that are driving the decisions customers make in a changing landscape through advances in technology. In this environment, customers do not want either/or solutions; they want the best of both worlds where the best trade-off is no trade-off. The four paradoxes are:

Separate, but connected: Seeking a constant belonging with people, brands and places, while also seeking individuality and the desire to communicate uniqueness of self.

Abundant rarity: A desire for luxury to be both scarce and available.

Seeking “a better me and a better we”: Seeking personal self-improvement, while seeking public, civic or global improvement.

“Do it myself and do it for me in my way”: A desire to be in control while not being the controller.

According to the report, global brands must address these paradoxes through being locally relevant and personally differentiating. IHG has identified six best practices through which brands can create experiences that strengthen customer relationships and grow brand loyalty.

Richard Solomons, CEO, IHG, commented, “Technology has changed the way we behave in our daily lives. This has had a direct, and fundamental, impact on business. Global brands need to address the complex, sometimes opposing needs of today’s customers in order to fulfil their expectations. Delivering a superior guest experience is a key focus for IHG. Building on the theme of this year’s IHG Trends Report, we have recently reached an important milestone for IHG Rewards Club, which now has 100 million members. The largest hotel loyalty programme in the industry is truly global and offers the benefits of a powerful membership community, whilst also providing a personalised experience for members whenever they stay at an IHG hotel.”

The six best practices, as stated in the report, are:

Aim for integration, rather than balance: Balancing conflicting customer needs is not enough; a better holistic experience needs to be created through the integration of these opposing needs.

Use needs-driven, occasion-based segmentation: Segmentation is not solely a marketing tool, but needs to be a core part of a company’s thinking.

Communicate with conversation: Brands must listen to customers to understand their needs and communicate with them in a way that makes the experience more meaningful to them as individuals.

Manage the brand’s multi-dimensionality: A brand must include relevant and differentiating features as well as functional, emotional and social benefits. The combination of these builds a distinctive brand character.

Develop ambidextrous brand-business teams: A brand needs teams that include divergent thinkers, with individual strengths and passions, who can also work in an integrated manner to create the cohesive initiatives that drive brand success.

Address the paradox of brand control: Businesses must not give up control of the brand to the external world, yet they must allow the consumers have their say and help influence the brand’s reputation.

The 2017 IHG Trends Report is the fifth in a series of reports that share insights into the changing world and provide best practices to help make brands fit for the future. The contained insights are based on a series of related studies spanning a five-year period and involving nearly 40,000 interviews with travellers across the globe.

Since the first report in 2013, the series has examined developments including the transition from brand experiences to brand relationships in the hospitality sector; delivering global, local and personalised brand experiences; the growing importance for companies to build both brand and organisational trust and how to make membership meaningful at a time when loyalty is becoming more important to many industries.

The report has been compiled in association with IHG’s partner, Arcature, and through using its own research and observations as well as a various external, third party sources.


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