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From transparency to collaboration with customers... and their eco-system
Companies have always been in a more collaborate modus with their customers. Yet collaboration may have been focused a lot on hard selling and uni-directional marketing messaging. The messaging has become more responsible in the past CSR decade.
If we believe what Michael Porter says about creating shared value, it is time to move from Transparancy to customers to Collaboration and shared value creation.
There are many areas where a more open and intensive collaboration is necessary:
- Customer needs and expectations change, and failure to proactively engage with customers on their expectations may result in the requirements being imposed on you, leaving you in the defensive.
- Legislations give manufacturers and distributors more responsibility for knowing the use cases of their products, making sure they are designed correctly and making sure safety instructions are delivered at the end-user, even if that user is many links away in the downstream value chain.
- Innovations and product development have moved out of the closed lab. The current speed of innovation makes it impossible to bear the cost of technical innovations that do not have a market. Products are developed and co-developed with customers and potential users.
- Sustainability, carbon & water footprint, health impact are not a subject of your factory operations and your supply chain. FMCG companies are intensively exchaning with consumers to innovate to a more sustainable value chain. That isn't a territory for B2C alone though. Also B2B companies can run into big surprises if they don't anticipate and collaborate on downstream value chain issues.