I learned the value of listening to your customers decades ago as Director of Marketing for Maybelline Cosmetics.  It not only led to the formation of Drucker Group nearly 20 years ago, but also inspired a unique marketing strategy development service we use to this day. 

Based on Voice of Customer research we were able to segment the market for eyeshadow based on the degree of confidence women had in applying it. There were “experimenters,” who were very comfortable trying new color combinations of eyeshadow, and there were “cautious applicators” who stuck with one look and never varied it. Often that look was the same one that they used in high school when they first started dating, and desperately needed an update. We also learned that based on its history, the Maybelline brand was viewed as the leader in eye cosmetics sold through food, drug, and mass merchandiser retail outlets.

Armed with this information, we created a new Go to Market strategy for Maybelline to reach these two different market segments. We created a new brand called Expert Eyes by Maybelline. Each compact of eye color came with three colors and instructions on how to apply them. The applicator itself was specially designed with two different tips. One to apply lid and brow colors and a second applicator to apply eyeshadow along the outer corners of the eye in a V shape and blend it into the top lash line and crease of the lid. With integrated strategic marketing and advertising support in place, it was soon an instant success and drove incremental sales and increased share of market for Maybelline.

We also repositioned the company’s Blooming Colors eyeshadow brand to appeal to the experimenter market segment, employing colorful retail displays and a high-end TV commercial entitled, “What do you want to be today?” featuring a woman experimenting with color and having a glamorous lifestyle. Sales and share of Blooming Colors also increased, making Maybelline the number-one brand, ultimately surpassing Revlon.

Twenty years ago we began introducing these same Voice of Customer qualitative and quantitative market research techniques to the B2B market space. Since then, we have conducted more than 60 Voice of Customer studies for our clients in manufacturing, financial services, packaging, and consumer goods markets. 

Based on these same techniques used in understanding consumer insights around eye shadow, we’ve helped our B2B clients make similar strides in understanding B2B buyer insights. These learnings have led to significant changes to their go-to-market strategies, customer value propositions, brand strategies, and brand identities. Often these firms make significant capital investments in support of these decisions because the VOC findings gave management teams high levels of confidence in their directions.

Whether it’s for eye shadow, industrial equipment, or financial services, if you want to understand what you think your product or service is worth, then Voice of Customer research should be something you should vigorously pursue.

Nick Andrus is Drucker Group’s Partner and Research Director