A New Model for the Future of Customer Relationships

 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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About the Authors

wind-webYoram (Jerry) Wind is the Lauder Professor and Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School and the founding Director of the Wharton SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, the Wharton Fellows program, and co-founder of the Wharton Future of Advertising Program. He led the development of the Wharton globalisation strategy, the creation of the Wharton Executive MBA program, as well as the reinvention of its curriculum. Wind has won the four major marketing awards and was selected as one of the Legends of Marketing with Sage publishing eight volumes of his work. He is an active consultant and advisor for Fortune 500 firms and start-ups.

hays-webCatharine Findiesen Hays is the founding Executive Director of the Wharton Future of Advertising Program, a leading global research collaboration bridging academia and practitioners. Previously, she led pioneering marketing, strategy, and sales teams during a 15-year career at AT&T. She is co-author of Beyond Advertising: Creating Value through All Customer Touchpoints (Wiley) and is the Wharton Marketing Department’s co-host for the “Marketing Matters” radio show on Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School on Sirius XM 111.

delosreyes-webAlexa de los Reyes is the Editorial Manager of the Wharton Future of Advertising Program. She has worked for the program since 2010, providing editorial support for the Program’s diverse print and online publications.



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4. Eckerle, Courtney. “Make Your Customer Your Hero: How HCSS saw a 54% increase in annualized revenue without mentioning the product.” Marketingsherpa.com, September

15, 2016.



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