Understanding and Serving Your Customers


Running on Innovation

Nike received Fast Company magazine’s top honors recently as the No.1 most innovative company of 2013 and one that has a corporate culture of innovation.

In 2012, Nike introduced two new products that stretched the definition of running apparel to new lengths. One was the Nike+ FuelBand, a simple, elegant band like a wristwatch that allows the wearer to track their daily footsteps and workouts.

The other is the Flyknit Racer, which are feather-light shoes that feel like socks on top of soles and are created to be environmentally friendly and eventually more cost-effective to produce. In the future,

Flyknit will allow customers to digitally personalize their shoes to match the exact shape of their feet. In 2012, Nike’s annual revenue hit $24 billion and profits were up 57 percent. Nike’s consistent focus on creative, innovative solutions for their customers clearly delivered strong results.

A New Solution for City Dwellers

The 10th most innovative company on Fast Company’s list for 2013 is Target, which was recognized for developing a new store concept that changes its “big box” image.

Recognizing that they wanted to attract customers living in urban areas, they focused their attention on testing a new store concept called CityTarget in Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago. This store will offer smaller packages that focus on value versus quantity and a speedier shopping experience complete with WiFi access, QR codes offering extra product information and a special “CityLove” section with localized products.

The stores have been located in refurbished historical settings to extend their customer appeal.

There are mixed reviews posted on yelp.com for Los Angeles, but you have to give Target credit for thinking “outside the box” and trying to attract new customers in a new demographic. Target’s earnings report for 2012 showed 5.1 percent sales growth, and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said that CityTarget locations in the U.S. are intended to improve their customers’ “multichannel experience.”

Focus on Customers

Companies that show healthy profits in the face of many financial challenges today are truly commendable.

They are also addressing the needs of today’s lifestyles, and their focus on understanding customers is at the root of their success. They demonstrate that they care about the people who choose them. How do you inform, create and deliver so that customers keep choosing your business?

Related articles:

Do You Know What Customers Want?
Developing a Relevant Brand Strategy
Smart Companies Listen and Respond to Customers

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Andrea Cotter
Andrea Cotter is the Founder and President of Virgilio & Cotter, LLC where she focuses on Marketing and Communications Strategies specializing in the Health Care industries. She also teaches C-Suite Leadership in her role as an adjunct faculty member at NYU's School of Professional Studies. In addition to her own company, Andrea has had both a corporate and entrepreneurial career in marketing and communications as a Global Executive at IBM Corporation and as SVP and Chief Communications Officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), followed by a brand consultancy role at Straightline and a partnership in the workplace culture startup CultureTalk. She speaks several languages, including Spanish, Italian and French has done consulting work with clients in Europe, US and Asia.