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What’s the Difference Between Product Orientation and Customer Orientation?


I often look for examples of the difference between Product Orientation and Customer Orientation. 

This morning, I got a note from Kevin Hillstrom about Orvis v. Nordstrom and their approach to merchandising. 

Kevin points out that if Orvis misses, it might take several years to return from a misfire because they are building products their customers love. 

Nordstrom can recover more quickly.


Because they are looking to give their customer what they want. 

This is the difference between product and customer. 

Customer Oriented companies can have more hits, more quickly, because they are always in the market, listening, and learning what the market wants/needs/desires. 

Product Orientation requires a bit of luck. 


In many cases, you are trying to say, “I know what the market wants.” 

Even if you don’t.

It can work. 

Like with the Post-It note. 

But the challenge is that it takes longer. 

It is more expensive. 

And, you may miss a lot. 

As a marketer, you should always push to get closer to the customer. 

The challenge for most businesses is that they are so in love with the product and the process of being right about the product that they never listen to the customer. 

Have you seen this in action?

Let me know by replying or sharing your thoughts in the ‘WCG Slack’ Group for strategy and marketing.