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The Customer Centricity Playbook

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The Customer Centricity Playbook

Implement a Winning Strategy Driven by Customer Lifetime Value

Wharton School Press,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A strategic, data-based approach to customer centricity for an increasingly digital world.

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Many companies claim to be customer-centric but focus on the wrong priorities, according to thought leaders Peter Fader and Sarah E. Toms. Building on Fader’s 2012 Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage, the authors share tactical approaches to help marketers acquire, retain and develop high-value customers. They explain why familiar approaches such as segmentation and personas aren’t working today, and how to future-proof a brand by centering respect for the individual and customer heterogeneity. Some readers might find this “playbook” short on concrete plays, but it does offer useful insights and strategies for marketing in an increasingly digital world.


Brands that thrive tend to focus on customers, not products.

Customer centricity means putting customers’ needs first – and specifically the needs of your highest-value customers – and creating products that meet those needs. By extracting the maximum value from high-value customers, you’ll in turn maximize the company’s own long-term value. Product-centric approaches often lead organizations to waste resources in the pursuit of sales to broad swathes of customers. 

The closure of almost 9,000 brick-and-mortar stores in the United States in 2017 demonstrated the fallibility of product centricity. In contrast, brands that cater to the needs of their highest-value customers have managed to survive in a changing global retail landscape. For example, Best Buy focused its resources on supporting the needs of consumers shopping in the smart home category, particularly women, by investing in its GeekSquad. This team of showroom experts served customers who chose Best Buy not for its products – which they could purchase online – but to access staff expertise.

Many leaders think they’re pursuing a customer-centric strategy when in reality they misunderstand ...

About the Authors

Peter S. Fader, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School, focuses his research on the analysis of behavioral data to forecast customer shopping and purchasing activities. He is the author of Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage. Sarah E. Toms is a thought leader in educational technology, a games expert and a founder in the areas of CRM, product development, productivity management and financial systems. She co-founded and serves as executive director of Wharton Interactive.

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