Customer experience and sales at the centre of marketing

The Yearly Marketing Survey reveals that marketers on average expect higher budgets and bigger teams in 2017. This would make it the third consecutive year in which both parameters increase. Companies clearly have renewed confidence in the added value of marketing.


The top priorities set for marketing departments are driving sales (55%) and optimizing the customer experience (51%). Nowadays, the modern customer controls the whole buying process. By managing and optimizing the whole customer journey, marketing and sales become equal partners making the customer the centre of attention.

Blending brand and sales experiences across touchpoints

Customers’ expectations of their interactions with companies are changing rapidly. As they become increasingly familiar with different touchpoints and channels to access goods or services, customers’ sales experience becomes a brand experience, and vice versa. Looking at the brand and commerce separately dilutes the brand and ultimately, makes a sale less likely to happen. 


Marketers need to find new ways of blending brand and sales experiences across different touchpoints with the objective of delivering a personalized, seamless and brand-consistent customer experience.

Brand commerce,
the future of marketing

We strongly believe that marketers should deploy everything to combine the emotional power of brand storytelling and sales activation. By striving to achieve brand commerce, marketers can turn more consumer interactions into transactions. Combining appealing content marketing and the personalized approach of sales activations will ultimately bring the most value to the customer and the business.


Brand commerce is made personal by data and delivered to scale by technology. Marketing automation enables you to deliver personalized content at the right moment to the right target audience, whereas innovative technologies help to offer the right experience and convenience.



The current state of brand maturity in Belgium



Are Belgian marketers on the right track to brand commerce?



If you can dream it,
you can do it


1. The current state of brand maturity in Belgium

Different levels of brand maturity

  • Product brand

    A product brand is built entirely around the product or service that is being sold. The marketing strategy is built inside out, driven by the product or service features. Communication towards customers is designed to push the product or service. This traditional way of looking at brands does not involve gathering or using data about customers.

  • Consumer brand

    A customer brand takes the first steps towards customer centricity. It is defined by a unique selling proposition that is based on customers’ needs rather than just the features of the product or service. It also starts looking at alternative customer buying journeys and becoming present in all of the online and offline channels their target customer looks to obtain information from and/or buy on.

  • Experience brand

    An experience brand, as the name suggests, focuses on the customer experience across different channels and touchpoints. The starting point is getting a good view of the different customer journeys and focusing on delivering a consistent experience. It is also important to communicate in a personal and relevant way (right message, right moment, right place, right target audience). These brands meet people where they are in a relevant way and move at the speed of their lives.

  • Brand Commerce

    The most mature stage of a brand is brand commerce, combining the traditional marketing strengths, the emotional power of a brand (customer brand) and the personalized experience of sending out the right message to the right person at the right time (brand experience), with a sales trigger to ultimately bring more value to your business. At this maturity level, the main strategic objective of marketing is to personally connect with consumers and aim for 1-to-1 communication through the seamless integration of all channels and the possibility of transacting at every touchpoint. This objective is enabled by technology and the use of data.


48% of Belgian marketers consider their brand is still at the level of a “product brand”, being not at all customer-centric (scoring themselves 3/10 or less), without leveraging customer insights. On the other hand, already 17% have put customer experience as a priority to reach brand commerce.

Brand commerce is reached by working on 5 building blocks:

1. It starts with a customer-centric mindset throughout the whole organization.

2. Given a company-wide customer focus, the goal is to create a seamless customer experience where the emotional power of brand storytelling blends with sales activation.

3. This is enabled by a clear data strategy

4. and by tools and technology that allow you to bring an omni-channel, personal and real-time experience.

5. It also requires an agile organizational design that enables you to adapt quickly to market developments, competition and changing customer needs.

The Yearly Marketing Survey 2017 deep dived into each of these building blocks. Browse our website for more information.

2. Are Belgian marketers on the right track to brand commerce?

Customer centricity as the starting point


Customer centricity is a prerequisite for offering the best possible customer experience. 53% of Belgian marketers consider their company as customer-centric



Discover the detailed results

Customer experience enabled by personalized content and an omni-channel strategy


Although marketers agree that consistent customer experiences are key to building strong brands, marketers do not believe they are nearly there yet: only 20% rated themselves at 7/10 or higher for their ability to offer a seamless customer experience. The Yearly Marketing Survey 2017 reveals the hurdles related to customer experience.

Discover the detailed results


A clear data strategy to tie it all together


At every touchpoint data can be collected to help companies not only understand their customers, but also to offer them a seamless online and offline personalized experience. Data used in the right way will make it possible to realize your marketing strategies. The Yearly Marketing Survey 2017 reveals that only 33% of marketers use their data to make strategic marketing decisions.

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The right tools & technology to enable an omni-channel strategy


Quickly evolving technologies can help marketers not only to improve marketing processes, but they can also be applied to influence and accelerate the customer journey. In the Yearly Marketing Survey 2017, only 15% of respondents rate themselves as innovators or early adopters.

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A customer-centric operating model that reduces silos and builds the right capabilities


For organizations to keep up with ever-changing customer needs, they need agility – and they know it. This, however, proves to be easier said than done as only 28% perceive their organization as flexible enough to adapt to changing customer needs (average rating 5.3/10).


Discover the detailed results

3. If you can dream it, you can do it

Successful Belgian companies evolving to brand commerce
are the ones that:

1. Start with a clear customer-centric vision, enabled by senior management that is committed to walking the talk.


2. Build an insights engine and meticulously map the customer journey (B2C) to target customers in a segmented way and design products and services for and with customers (B2B).


3. Implement the customer-centric vision by translating it into a great customer experience, by using an innovative and proactive data strategy to target and personalize (predictive & real-time).


4. Go the extra mile by using more advanced technology: a small number of innovators use dynamic pricing modules and chat box, among other forms of AI-based technologies.


5. Mirror their customer-centric focus within their organization by working with agile interdisciplinary teams in which technology and data hard skills support the entire organization, jointly driving business decisions. This enables them to adapt quickly to developments in the market, competition and changing customer needs.

Download our insights about Brand Commerce


The Yearly Marketing Survey 2017 deep-dived into the maturity of brands in Belgium and how they can reach brand commerce, the highest level of maturity. Download our whitepaper about Brand Commerce and discover what you can do in areas such as customer centricity, customer experience, data strategy, technology and organizational design. On top of that, you get a number of actionable tools, templates and roadmaps to help you get started today! Are you up for the challenge?