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Only 1 in 4 business leaders believe that customers are loyal, while 62% feel that the concept of loyalty is close to – if not already – obsolete, according to a Forbes Insights study [download page] produced in association with Gap International. The survey of business leaders from companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenues reveals that in an increasingly customer-centric environment, personalized marketing is the top area of focus.

Indeed, almost two-thirds of respondents indicated that they are engaging in personalized marketing in order to meet their customers’ needs. For some time now, marketers have seen personalization as key to long-term brand success, though some forms of personalization (such as email) are easier to achieve than others (such as web content personalization).

Alongside personalized marketing, enterprise organizations are also favoring two other approaches to meet customers’ needs: online product information/services (63%) and product innovation (62%). As consumers spend increasing amounts of time online, it’s no surprise that organizations would respond by offering more digital products and services. Product innovation, meanwhile, is an area in which brands are collaborating more with consumers, and in which marketers are taking a greater role. Indeed, for enterprise social business strategists, collaborating with customers on new products/services is one of the leading objectives.

Not surprisingly, most enterprise business leaders are also focusing on providing a superior customer experience – something that is repeatedly seen as the most “exciting” digital opportunity for marketers. Encouragingly, the study notes, is that more than half (51%) of the business leaders surveyed believe that they have customer experience “almost all figured out.”

Separately, the study asked respondents to identify the most important characteristics in a leader. OF those listed, modesty (51%) was considered important by the largest share, followed by flexibility/adaptability (47%) and open-mindedness/curiosity (46%). Apparently those traits will be needed to manage the Millennial generation, which respondents counted as their top management challenge.

Finally, more than one-third indicated that they are transforming/digitizing either their whole organization (36%), with another 38% saying they are digitizing/transforming by introducing specific technologies. Interestingly, business leaders feel confident about their technological proficiency, with more than three-quarters saying they are “mostly proficient” in technology. (Separate research indicates that about 2 in 3 marketers in the US and Europe believe that understanding marketing technology is becoming increasingly important for successful senior marketers.)

Digital transformation is already showing results for many enterprise organizations, per the report, most commonly through market share increases (72%) and product innovation (66%).

About the Data: The data is based on a survey of 400 CEOs, COOs, presidents and managing directors conducted by Forbes Insights in October 2016. Respondents represented a range of industries, including retail, telecommunications, technology, financial services, healthcare, media and insurance. Geographies spanned from the U.S. and Europe to Asia. All companies had at least $1 billion in annual revenues.

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