Thursday, December 8, 2016

What Marketers Can Learn About Customer Experience From Santa Claus

Source: Pixabay
Santa Claus, in the lexicon of marketers, has an extraordinarily strong brand. The Santa® brand we know today evolved over a century ago thanks to Clemente Clark Moore’s poem, Thomas Nast’s illustrations, and The New York Sun’s famous editorial to Virginia, and it was later cemented in our culture thanks to Coca-Cola advertising. His brand has thrived ever since, surviving war, consumerism, and the Internet.

How has Santa survived for so long and what does it tell us about customer experience (CX)?

Santa is free

Parent’s may disagree, but Santa offers a service and charges nothing. Marketers obsessed with sales can mock Santa’s poor business model, but they’d be missing the point. Price is part of every person’s consideration of a brand’s customer experience, and many of the great CX success stories of recent years have come with price tags that are smaller, not larger.

Facebook, Snapchat,, and Spotify are free to users. Netflix has grown by permitting account sharing. Uber offers better on-demand transportation experiences at a lower price than traditional offerings.

And those inclined to laugh at Santa’s bottom line might want to take note of Amazon. The retailer accounted for almost one in three dollars spent over 2016’s “cyber weekend,” more than four times the next top-selling online retailer, a commanding market share that the company achieved, in part, because of pricing that results in minimal profit. Since 2000, Amazon’s revenues have steadily increased from less than $3B to more than $100B, but the company has been unprofitable five of those 16 years (including two of the last four years) and earned net income of more than $1B only once–six years ago. Retail brands that have made more profit quake in fear of what Amazon is doing and will do to their industry and companies. Ho ho ho, who’s laughing now?

Santa solicits input, listens and uses data

Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good, which means his CRM system efficiently handles trillions of data points on tens of millions of children. (Shh, don’t tell the FTC that Santa violates COPPA.) Feeding this huge data lake (literally–Santa stores his data in a lake at the North Pole to keep his servers cool) is the greatest Voice of the Customer (VoC) system the world has ever seen. He knows what every child wants because he asks–he solicits and records individual requests via a massive multichannel system that includes postal mail, email, and, of course, his lap.

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