It’s not a secret that focusing on a customer has become an important variable when working on your marketing strategy. The idea of getting close to your customers is now the norm. However, it does make a difference in how you go about it. There are two popular approaches: customer-centric and customer-focused. They may seem identical at first, but when you go deeper into the analysis, the differences are obvious.

What’s the difference between a customer-centric and customer-focused approach?

So let’s dig deeper to understand the differences better. The easiest explanation would be that customer-centric is focused on customer’s needs, while customer-focused is about the customer’s wants.

Being customer-centric requires more knowledge about the customer. You are required to get into the customer’s perspective and know what is it that they need. The customer-focused approach consists of surveys that depend on customer’s feedback and service agent’s when things go wrong. Their starting point is the product, and what’s the best way to make it desirable for the customer.

Customer-focused companies offer a pleasant experience for their customers. They are listening to their desires and fulfilling them the best of their ability. Their customers are mostly satisfied and they would probably consider doing business with them again.

Customer-centric companies create loyal customers

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They are always one step ahead. Their in-depth knowledge of the customer gives them an insight into their needs. The focal point is the solution to the customer’s problem, rather than explaining why is it that their product/service could be useful.

Rather than thinking “How much product can I sell to one customer?”, the main question is “What can I do to help the customer’s needs”? A customer will always opt for something they need, rather than something they want. It is the principle of priority. But if they feel like their needs are being understood and met, that’s what will make them loyal to you.

To achieve that, you need to give in order to receive. Make each customer feel like it is all about them, that you care about them and you understand them. You will be receiving a customer that is going to stay loyal to your brand.

Of course, as this process is somewhat intricate, it requires more time and dedication. 

You won’t be able to guess what are your customer’s needs right off the bat. You will need to do your research to find that out because, at the end of the day, you are trying the see the world from a customer’s point of view.

Let’s study that on some examples.

Best Buy- recognizing their customers’ needs

Best Buy is a perfect example of changing their approach from being customer-focused to customer-centric. They noticed that a lot of women (busy moms) were leaving their stores without making a purchase.

Instead of focusing on how many of them left the store without buying anything, they wondered WHY did they leave the store empty-handed?

They found out that the moms “wanted to look at complete solutions such as wanting to buy a digital camera that would allow them to share photos with family members. But the sales team were immediately diving into questions about the number of pixels the shopper wanted.”

Busy moms weren’t interested in the technical specifications of the products. That will interest someone who already has some knowledge of these products in general. But busy moms just wanted, for example, just a camera that will take nice pictures. The discovery sparked the change in stores’ layouts, aesthetics, and their employees changed their approach based on their customers’ needs.



Today, Best Buy even introduced the Geek Squad that helps customers dealing with installation or similar processes they found confusing.

By recognizing their customers’ needs, they managed to stay on top of their game. Many competitors had to close their stores, but Best Buy is still super successful.

Ryanair- needs rather than wants

Ryanair is an Irish airline company that is famous for its cheap flights. In the 2017 survey by the Which, they have not been ranked very generously.

And why is that?

They don’t have premium service, great food, free additions and so on. So how are they still making so much profit? They are still one of the busiest airline companies. Well, what they do offer are really inexpensive and frequent flights, with a large number of destinations.

Would it be nice to have premium food and service? Yes, of course. However, that costs more. And Ryanair knows what its customers need: cheap and frequent flights. Needs over wants. They know their customers well, and this is the key to a successful business.

In conclusion, what should you do to be customer-centric?

What you want to achieve is thinking like a customer. To do that, you need to do your research. Once you know your customers, deal with their needs, not wants. Rather than focusing on the products, focus on solutions. People react differently if you shove your product in their face and if you target a certain problem and offer them a solution (with the product/service being the solution). To have faithful customers, you need to treat them as your lifelong partners. That means being there for the long run. Focus on their lifetime values and they will be loyal to you. If you make it meaningful, your customers will be the first ones to recognize it. Instead of being reactive, you should be proactive. Know your customers and continuously work on new solutions, don’t wait for them to ask you for it.

As Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity said:

“Customer centricity is a strategy to fundamentally align a company’s products and services with the wants and needs of its most valuable customers.”