Culture Kings CEO Simon Beard on the future of CX, and why retailers should always be ‘selling an emotion’

Culture Kings

Culture Kings co-founders Simon and Tahnee Beard. Source: A.K.A

CX — the initialism of customer experience — is a current buzz term in the retail industry, with brands everywhere trying to figure out how to create the best CX practices possible.

After all, creating a great experience is what brings customers back, and Culture Kings founder Simon Beard understands that better than most.

While he runs a global business these days, Beard started off his entrepreneurial career with his partner Tahnee by selling clothes at a local market on the Gold Coast.

Today, the duo’s estimated net wealth is $626 million, earning them a spot on last year’s coveted AFR Rich List.

The Culture Kings founder was invited to last week’s Online Retailer’s conference to discuss the importance of CX and the role of a ‘customer experience officer’ — which Beard said is the “best job of all time”.

As to what he thinks customer experience revolves around, it can all be boiled down to a single word: emotion.

And that’s because people are no longer just buying a product, Beard said.

“They’re buying a feeling.”

Beard gave the Online Retailer audience the example of Nike shoes. If you buy a pair of sneakers with a tick on them, you’ll feel far different than if you bought a similar, cheaper pair of sneakers from somewhere like Payless, without the tick.


Source: Unsplash/Kristian Egelund.

“When you wear the ones with the tick, you just feel better,” Beard said.

And it’s true. Research shows that the answer to developing brand loyalty, maximising engagement and, ultimately, building an ideal customer experience is all directly related to the subconscious mind.

As reported in Inc, Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman’s research found that through studying consumers’ physical reactions, purchasing decisions are often driven by unconscious urges.

The biggest unconscious urge? Emotion.

Like with Nike, this emotion has been solidified with certain brands and evoked through something as simple as a logo.

For Culture Kings, Beard said the goal is to always be “selling that emotion”.

Bringing the emotion of CX online

Culture Kings is primarily a brick-and-mortar retailer, with a new flagship store opening up in Las Vegas later this year, along with a newly appointed US president.

Blending this emotion into both the online and physical world is no easy feat, and Beard acknowledges that a difficult task retailers face is learning how to “not dilute that message as it flows through the process chain to customers”.

But for retailers who are solely based online, building this ‘emotion’ for their customers is a completely different ballpark.

When you walk into a Nike store, it’s not just the tick you recognise. It’s the walls lined with bright sneakers; the “Just Do It” slogan all around; the customer service representatives greeting you; the smells; the sounds; the feeling.

Many of those senses are stripped away online, causing e-commerce retailers to find other ways to bottle an emotion for customers.

For Adore Beauty — a completely digital retail store — CEO Tennealle O’Shannessy says emotion is bottled into the brand by looking at every element of CX through a digital lens.

O’Shannessy was also on the panel at Online Retailer, and explained that this singular focus on the customer and their experience “doesn’t go away” depending on what medium you are using.

Considering Adore Beauty having more than 11,000 SKUs (stock-keeping units), O’Shannessy understands her customers are asking one thing: “Help me choose”.

“Our customers want to know ‘you know me, you know my concerns, you know based on how I’ve interacted with you previously, what is the right product for me’.”

O’Shannessy gave the example of the much-loved ‘iconic Australian Tim Tam’ the team had decided to include in their first order — a treat which is packed in every order, to this day.

“[CX] is about carefully made decisions about what we stand for as a brand, the experience we want to create for our customers end-to-end, and how we actually execute that”.

Pre-pandemic, these physical outputs from digital brands were seen as “nice to haves”, O’Shannessy explains.

“Now it’s the bare minimum.”


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