Brands are leveraging data and more sophisticated analytics to do C2B marketing, a term referring to marketing plans driven by customers' established likes and behaviors.

There's business-to-business marketing and business-to-consumer marketing, but the increasing availability of data makes way for another kind of marketing: customer-to-business (C2B). With more analytics, brands are able to market based on what they know customers like, essentially letting customers dictate the marketers' strategies.

C2B marketing is exemplified by brands like Apple and Uber, whose products have become synonymous with the user experience, according to Deepak Advani, general manager of IBM Commerce, during the keynote at IBM's Amplify conference in San Diego yesterday. 

"We're moving into a world where companies spend a lot of time and energy understanding what makes all of us tick," Advani says. "They're developing experiences that blow us away, turn us into advocates and turn us into fans.

Advani said that when brands combine attitudinal and interactional data, they can get a better sense of their customers. As a result, they can have more "personalized, relevant, in-context conversations."

"When you put all this data together, you get a feel for who your customers are: what they're doing, how they're doing it and the most important impact of all, why they're here," he said.

While Advani called C2B the future of marketing, Tom Blaisdell, senior marketing manager for ecommerce at Hanes, says it's already happening. While all brands like to innovate and come up with new products, Blaisdell knows that a large portion of Hanes customers keep coming back for the classic underwear they've been buying for years.

He adds that with a large company - Hanes' parent company, HanesBrands, employs 50,000 people around the world - the struggle comes with getting everyone in the company on the same page.

"You (Read more...) to be careful about making the website a slave to too many masters," Blaisdell says. "We want our website to provide a good brand experience, but we still have financial goals."

According to David Walmsley, director of British retailer Marks & Spencers' website, the C2B movement allows brands to learn not only what to market, but how to market. Knowing that people spend more time on social platforms and mobile devices, Walmsley can serve ads accordingly: "snackable recreational content," as he puts it.

"Customers read less publications and watch less live TV. When Sophie has a free 30 seconds, she'll hop onto Facebook, she'll hop onto Instagram, or she'll hop onto Twitter," he says. "As a retailer, I'm thinking, 'What is our 30-second offering for Sophie?"

"It's about how you co-create value with your customers or go on a journey with them," he adds.

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