A New Model for the Future of Customer Relationships

December 1, 2016 • STRATEGY & MANAGEMENT, Marketing & Consumers, Editors' Pick

 By Yoram (Jerry) Wind and Catharine Hays, with Alexa de los Reyes

The fundamental relationships among brands, media, and people are being transformed at an unprecedented rate, necessitating a new definition of customer relationships. This article offers specific and practical guidelines for brands to understand, develop, and improve all points of interaction with people by adopting new mindsets and approaches.


How do most brands view people today? As masses of consumers categorised by purchasing power? Potential customers to be wooed, flattered, and fleeced? Or maybe as participants in a mutually beneficial symbiosis?




While that last one may sound a bit far-fetched, it is clear that the fundamental relationships among brands, media, customers, employees, and other key stakeholders are being transformed at an unprecedented rate. How people and businesses encounter, experience, and purchase products and services continues to evolve as new technologies and interfaces proliferate, and the implications for brands are profound. The role and empowerment of “customers” are also transforming, and there is nothing riskier than choosing to operate as though nothing has changed.

For the Wharton Future of Advertising Program’s (WFoA) Advertising 2020 project, over 200 thought leaders from around the world and across disciplines point the way to a new paradigm of customer relationships, which is expanded to include every point of interaction between people and brands, no matter where, when, or how the interaction occurs. The shift requires not only a change in perspective but also a transformation that has implications at every level throughout an organisation.


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