UCB: Let’s be truly customer centric.

In this Industry Insight, UCB CEO Darren Park reflects on the group’s milestone anniversary and encourages a customer centric, rather than customer focused approach to business.

2019 is UCB’s 25th anniversary year. Through those 25 years, UCB has led the way on harnessing the power of independent convenience retailers and leading trade partners, creating what is today a vibrant and valuable marketplace. We mark our 25th anniversary milestone, not by talking about yesterday, but how we again drive improvements in our market and Industry for today and tomorrow.

On that topic, I was asked recently by one of our team members, what’s the difference between customer focused and customer centric. My immediate response was, aren’t they the same?

Without going too far into the conversation that followed (it was a pricing discussion), it challenged me to stop and reflect. What was the difference? Is there one and if so, what are the implications for how we as retailers trade in competitive environments, with similar products on shelf to many retailers across multiple formats and occasions.

Manufacturers once were able to build strong FMCG businesses based solely on unique pack and products, owned manufacturing formulas, technologies and distribution methods. With this uniqueness, a product centric approach was relatively easy to drive. As the marketplace has become hyper competitive, we are all more aware and informed of what our direct and indirect competitors are doing – the product based way of selling has potentially become less effective.

What I’m increasingly challenging is how my members are categorised. You can’t look at UCB for example as a convenience store retail group and then simply sell products and deliver pricing and strategies that fit that view. Many convenience store retailers today are also QSRs, cafés, offices and service providers, such as the new Vantage retail site in Ballarat, Victoria.

An approach based on a spirit of co-creation, would in my view be customer centric. Don’t simply ask my team what they want and deliver it. That’s customer focused. We don’t want a faster horse. Customer centric companies try to understand what we need and collaboratively deliver that. Customer centric approaches try to create a complete solution as well.

A strategic, customer centric approach is more valuable today for all parties. We are all unique, we all have different capabilities but service many of the same shoppers across multiple retail formats and occasions. I encourage you and your companies to work with us to jointly create the future, in a way that is customer centric.

Until next time, Darren Park.

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