Rethinking customer definitions

Business relationships change constantly as companies try to meet the expectations of current and future customers. As electronic technologies become more complex, some companies are rethinking their definition of customers.

In more and more fields, managers can no longer define customers as the business they service directly. Instead of focusing on the companies they sell to directly, marketers need to look at the next level of customers. In short, companies must look at their customers’ customers.

Some of the top R&D people at Renesas discussed this trend during their recent Developers’ Conference. In the automotive field, the microcontroller supplier no longer worries only about the Tier 1 suppliers that design automotive electronics. They’re also talking directly with automakers, working with the engineers who determine the specs and guidelines that the Tier 1s will use when they turn concepts into products.

This broadened focus is likely to become more commonplace as the economy remains constrained and product complexity rises. Knowing more about the end application can help many companies better understand the goals that their customers want to achieve.

Suppliers who can help their customers design products that better suit those at the next level will always hold an edge. Anyone who can help trim costs or improve reliability or functionality will hold a significant edge in meeting customer requirements. Regardless of which customer they’re thinking about.

One Comment

  1. Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Looking at customers’ customers is not new.
    This was standard procedure for certain products (e.g., solder mask) when I was VP Sales and Marketing of Dynachem 35+ years ago.

    It makes good sense for any product or process that remains on or with a manufactured part as well as for those that improve the quality and/or lower the cost.

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