Competition in the digital arena seems to force brands in one direction: strive to place users at the center of their sphere of action. And this proximity demands that they listen in real time and reduce to the minimum delivery times for consumer demands. At our latest innovationHUB we took the opportunity to talk to Eva Ivars, General Director of Alain Afflelou, about this complex scenario and about ideas4afflelou, the community through which the optical group focuses on the trend of co-creating with consumers.
Innovators (I): Digital technology has transformed the relationship between companies and clients. What does this new model entail for brands?
Eva Ivars (EI): We live in a world where anything not happening in real time seems not to exist. And consumers are also part of that trend. They are digital and have a great deal of technological tools at their disposal to speak and listen. So, brands that don’t want to be part of that game, who don’t have access to feedback from their clients and the trends of the moment, will be left out of the market.
I: You have taken things one step further, going as far as creating your own community, ideas4afflelou, where you can interact with your clients directly. What advantages does that bring you?
EI: At Alain Afflelou we want to use the same tools our consumers use. And in this sense, we like to say that having a community where we can co-create with our clients has given us superpowers. Specifically, ideas4afflelou has given us a super-ear that we use to listen to consumers and detect the latest trends.
I: What does that real-time contact with your clients mean for you?
EI: Having a tool that allows us to listen and communicate with our clients has shown that they were eager to contribute and share their ideas with us. In this respect, ideas4afflelou is a facilitator, because in practice it is an element of collective intelligence that gives us very valuable information about our consumers.
I: Gathering information for consumers to better cater for their demands. Does placing the consumer at the center of things have an effect on their loyalty?
EI: Listening and answering in real time to what consumers are saying undoubtedly creates ties with the brand, helps to strengthen their engagement and what is known as the loyalty loop. This direct contact with clients extends into the purchase and prescription cycle, so the brand is always considered an option by consumers, part of their day-to-day lives.
I: What advantages are gained over competitors by making this type of commitment?
EI: Firstly, it allows us to anticipate the solutions our consumers are demanding at each moment in time. In that sense, we like to think that if our competitors copy us, they do so looking to our past, but we are already in the future.
Learn about the ideas4afflelou success story (free pdf).