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Selling to the Segment of One – Stories from South East Asia

Kaustubh Patwardhan, Director I ASEAN and Hong Kong, Ashnik
Singapore, 9 Oct 2017

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Exhausted from a busy day at the field with back to back customer meetings, our whole team headed for the newly opened Kopitiam across our office building. The scorching sun made even a little walk to our usual joint at Lau Pa Sat little impractical, particularly on a hot humid day. A smiling, warm face welcomed us all to the Coffee shop, asked us our names and specific choices of caffeine for our drained systems. The next day happened to be very similar and that day, we felt the need for ‘that’ refreshing face rather than the caffeine itself. So, we again headed back to the same joint and we were received with another surprise. He said “Good afternoon KP, for you a medium spicy Masala Tea, and for you Ms. Smiley face your Teh Alia and you Mr. K, you will get your Kopi Katay.. You Ms A, look very tired today, a refreshing Ice Lemon Tea would do wonder for you lah…”. We were won over this personal touch. Bye Bye to our old Lau Pa Sat joint!

From that time onwards, we knew we were going to be loyal to this new café joint. We weren’t paying this new Kopi Uncle for his quality or variety of Caffeine to us, but rather for the feeling of belonging and being cared for which he created among us. It was for this Personalisation or rather the Hyper-Personalisation – going beyond our names and understanding our emotional needs. This is the good thing about Human Psychology. Think of the many trivial artifacts we have collected till date. You will always find it difficult to part ways with, especially those which have your name or photos embedded or printed – be it a small kitchen accessory or a pen or water bottle.  It is this small thing of making the experience a personal one that makes the difference. A very simple concept, but it works because it hits us at a subconscious level. Yes, this is what is the “Segment of One” or Hyper-Personalisation that every business today is eyeing to achieve for its customers.

Promoting a product or service and selling it to people is never an easy situation. And at the end, no one wants their potential customers to feel like they are just another target, a number to achieve or just another deal. Every organisation wants to connect with their audience in a better, evolved way. On the other hand, customers see so much constantly, purchase so much regularly, that their minds are exhausted and overrun. Almost every company on earth today is talking about Digital Transformation, IoT, Cloud, Mobility or Big Data. And why should a customer pay attention to our noise if it is similar to others? According to the law of diminishing returns, the value of the first water bottle sold is higher than the second and so forth. So unless there is any differentiation in our offering when we speak about Digital Transformation journey with customer, why at all will a customer pay they attention to us? Whether all businesses realize it or not, every such business is currently trying to sell their customers their 79th bottle of water. We all need to sell it better, and bring back an individuality to the game to keep the selling going.

‘Internet of Things’ has paved way for ‘Internet of Me’ where every customer’s wish has become a command for the business. Machine learning, Social media and AI are unleashing the capabilities to unearth various patterns and make quick response a mandate. Thus, for every business it has become a possibility to not only create personalized marketing and sell, but also to take it to the level of hyper-personalisation, where not just demographic data related to customer is being used but going beyond his emotional state or psychological needs are understood – so that offerings are customised to align to these. Thus, by understanding what the customers likes, what they enjoy, and what they spend money on, there is huge possibility to unlock the ability to deliver personalized recommendations that don’t even feel like advertisements. This kind of relevance allows businesses to position themselves as assistants, rather than as interruption.

There are a number of industries poised to take advantage of this. Recently, I attended an IoT event, where one of the top Insurance companies was talking about the possibilities and realities of offering Hyper-personalised Insurance offerings to its customers. Why should a customer pay an Insurance premium for a generic segment that usually Insurance companies put him or her in according to his age and gender? Can’t it be more specific to his or her own lifestyle, risk profile, health condition and needs? There is so much data available through IoT, Social media that it would be possible in the near future to have insurance policies sold as a monthly utility accordingly to one’s needs in a particular time period, based on heavy travel plans, local weather conditions, driving patterns etc. This would be true for many other businesses like Banking, e-Commerce, and for B2B businesses as well.

Hyper-Personalisation or Segment of One is going to be the most effective arsenal to make our potential clients loyal to us right away. There really is no better way to say “I appreciate you and your business with us” than with a personalised experience. And at the end of the day, we are all humans and we do not want to be sold to, we just want to be loved.

– Kaustubh Patwardhan, Director I ASEAN and Hong Kong, Ashnik

Kaustubh (KP) is the Head of Business Development and Strategy at Ashnik. His role comprises of heading Strategic Partnerships, Channels Management and Business Development for ASEAN. With his expansive experience in IT, he plays a pivotal role in strategic initiatives undertaken by Ashnik. Apart from his usual responsibilities at Ashnik, he is passionate about photography, cricket and other sports. He is also an enthusiastic participant in poetic circles and plays.


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