Marketing that puts customers’ needs ahead of business goals boosts consumers’ sentiments, research shows. MarketingSherpa’s Customer Satisfaction Research study found that nearly 60 percent of highly satisfied customers believe that the marketing of a company they are satisfied with "often or always" puts their needs ahead of its own business goals compared to 16.1 percent of highly unsatisfied customers. Nearly 92 percent of satisfied consumers indicate they are likely or very likely to continue to purchase from brands they like versus 29.4 percent who are unsatisfied with a brand.

The MarketingSherpa Customer Satisfaction Research study of 2,400 consumers, sampled to reflect a close match to the U.S. population's demographics, was conducted in September and October 2016. Half of the respondents were asked to reflect on their experiences with a brand with which they are highly satisfied and the other half were questioned about a brand with which they are not satisfied, and the responses of these two groups were then compared to and contrasted against each other.

"In this era of data-driven marketing and intense customer targeting, the survey results clearly indicate that brands should think beyond just aiming at their customer, and instead use that data to elevate the customer. We call this customer-first marketing," says Daniel Burstein, senior director of editorial content at MarketingSherpa. "If the customer is the king or queen, shouldn't they come first?"

"By using marketing to serve customers and prioritizing customer needs before short-term business and marketing objectives, companies will gain a long-term competitive advantage and sustainable business success as indicated by the increases in purchase intent and loyalty we measured in the study."

The survey found 56 percent of respondents said that customer-first marketing was either important or very important to them. Furthermore, 51 percent of highly satisfied customers were very likely to give the company a chance to correct its mistake by contacting customer service to find a resolution while only 18 percent of highly unsatisfied customers said the same. Only eight percent of highly unsatisfied customers were very likely to continue purchasing.

The study also surveyed consumers’ engagement with brands’ various marketing channels—52 percent of satisfied customers often or always engaged with TV ads, followed by emails at 50 percent. Print ads by mail (direct mail), from the store (in-store circulars) and in magazines were consumed by 50 percent, 48 percent and 45 percent, respectively. While unsatisfied customers ranked channels in a similar order, they were much less likely to want to engage with the brands—29 percent often or always watched TV ads; 28 percent read print ads from mail (direct mail); 27 percent read print ads in a newspaper, magazine, or from a store (in-store circulars); and 23 percent wanted to subscribe to email.

"The satisfied customers produced by customer-first marketing and business practices are so vital to marketers because satisfied customers are more likely to engage and less likely to disengage across a range of channels," adds Burstein. "Following best practices or investing in the right channels is not enough, if their companies don't practice customer-first marketing and business practices, marketers' channel investments will underperform. This justifies giving marketers a seat at the table of key business and marketing decisions to serve as an advocate for the audience."

View the entire study at