Dentsu Customer-Centricity: Navigating challenges beyond transactions


Brands have typically focused their time on the transactional part of the customer relationship. However, more than ever, consumers are now prioritising brands that focus on a value-driven experience. To become more customer-centric, brands must shift towards providing more compelling experiences by understanding the needs and motivations of their customer base.  

Inclusive marketing & emotional connections  

Inclusivity is key to successful marketing, and we are already seeing a shift as brands are pivoting their marketing strategies to incorporate representation – whether that be through gender, ethnicity, disability, age, or other areas. However, we still have a way to go.  

If brands want to create more meaningful experiences for their consumers, they need to understand them better. They need to have a deeper understanding of the breadth of their audiences, tying in with inclusivity, and their emotional needs. Typically, the data collected around consumers is very transactional – what products they buy, their lifetime value, when they last purchased and so on. But what are your customers values? What are they passionate about? What do they stand for? All those things come into play, making up your consumers personalities and influencing their decision making.

The power of sensory experiences

At our 2024 Seichō event series, Azlan Raj, Chief Marketing Officer for dentsu, UK&I, highlighted examples of successful initiatives that are incorporating inclusivity with sensory experiences to engage their consumers. Elastoplast, the healing and wound care experts, recently bought out plasters in a range of skin colours. Although simple, this new product was revolutionary. Az stated, “being a person of colour, it suddenly meant that if I had a plaster, it didn’t stand out”. This innovative product suddenly made Elastoplast “much more inclusive to a wider community”.

Another example he gave was Melia Hotels, who have their own scent for each of their brands, making it instantly recognisable. Az also went on to mention that in Tokyo, when you’re on the underground “they say the name of the station that you land at, but they also have a jingle”. 

Tapping into the power of the senses opens up a whole new way for brands to think about inclusivity. Driving new experiences becomes a way to unlock a new sense of value for consumers. Underpinned by our principles of Sanpo Yoshi; doing what's right for people, and society, is good for business. Az highlighted that getting those principles right means “it’s ultimately going to be great for each of our brands”.

Consumer understanding is everything 

In our 2024 Read the Room report, we surveyed 2,000 consumers across seven different countries in Europe. We wanted to understand how diversity and inclusion effects the decisions that consumers make about brands.   

Among other findings, we discovered that consumers just don’t have enough information about what brands are doing around diversity and inclusion. Therefore, they were unable to have an informed opinion about those brands – meaning there’s a huge opportunity for brands to take a stand and explain to their customers what they’re doing in terms of DE&I to stand out from the crowd.  

Building trust as a priority  

We also found from our research that the DEI and societal benefits of a brand plays a vital role in the way people make their decisions. Many of those decisions, unsurprisingly, are driven by trust. So, how can brands create better trust with their consumers? It’s not just about having a good value statement; trust needs to be established across every interaction point with the customer. Customers rely on their own learned experiences – so it’s all about show and not tell.  

Giving them consistent, trusted experiences will show that your brand is authentic in its value statement. From a diversity perspective, what many brands get wrong is making it a tick box exercise or shying away from pressing issues. Cancel culture is stronger than ever, which makes brands nervous around where to or not to take a stance. However, saying nothing makes your customers lose trust and doubt the authenticity behind a brand’s diversity and inclusion stance.  

Yes, not every issue can be tackled head on, but consumer expectations now expect more from brands than ever before and are much more likely to ‘cancel’ a brand that doesn’t align with their values. How can brands avoid this? Listening to your customers is key. Diving into the data and building realistic, in-depth customer profiles to understand their needs and concerns will be game-changing.  

As consumers, particularly the younger generations, expect more from brands, it will be those who deliver personalised, relevant experiences that succeed. Gaining the trust of your customers and delivering consistent, authentic experiences will drive customer loyalty and retention in the long run.  

Get in touch to find out more about a customer-centric approach and learn how to move away from a transactional approach to business-consumer relationships.