What can Black Panther teach us about Customer Experience?

In the last few months, I’ve seen the excitement, emotion and joy in my friends, family and colleagues surrounding Ryan Coogler’s ‘Black Panther’. Arguably Marvel’s most triumphant cinematic venture, the film explores a world in which T’Challa, who is the titular Black Panther, returns to his homeland of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king.

Black Panther has had astronomical success and is said to have paved the way for change within the film industry regarding ethnic minority representation.

But what can this film teach us about Customer Experience?

1. Focus on the emotions of your customers

Black Panther has held its position in the No.1 Spot at the box office in several countries and has now achieved more than $1 billion in worldwide sales. The film has clearly resonated with its audience, as the predominantly black cast has created representation with meaningful impact for an underrepresented community, with many people flocking to cinemas across the world wearing traditional African dress to embrace the Afrocentric influences of the film.

It is evident that the success of the film lies in how it makes people feel. Usurping the stereotypes of Africa as being an impoverished nation and instead presenting the continent as powerful and advanced, Black Panther has succeeded in empowering its audience.

Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst at comscore.com, described the film as “a cultural event” which “has sparked a conversation about inclusiveness and diversity”.

One cinemagoer detailed their experience of watching the film, saying “even though none of us knew each other, we were all just smiling at each other as if to say, ‘Yeah, we all had the same feeling.’ It really made me feel good inside”.

Clearly, Black Panther creates a profound and inspiring feeling with its audience.

This needs to be replicated within the world of Customer Experience. How people feel as a result of your product is key to developing and maintaining customer satisfaction and facilitating a community spirit amongst your users.

Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review demonstrates the clear link between emotion and customer experience by analysing the major emotional motivators of a popular apparel brand.

The result of the study determined that implementing an emotional-connection-based strategy across the entire customer experience framework increased rates of emotionally connected customers, customer advocacy – which in turn led to a 15% increase in active customers and reduced the percentage of customer attrition.

It cannot be denied that customers’ emotions and desires need to be central to your approach to customer experience. As seen below, there is a significant correlation between a brand’s emotional connection to customers and their perception of the brand.

So rather than creating generic products you think may be successful, target a specific market and focus on creating and promoting products that inspire your customers as this will facilitate future growth.

2. Create a team that reflects the customers you want to target

Black Panther has been described as Marvel’s most diverse film to date, in terms of the race, gender and sexuality of the cast and crew. The film portrays women and people of colour as authoritative, powerful figures who act as decision-makers for their society. It is this diversity that has been central to the film’s success, which demonstrates that in order to better understand the people you desire to serve, you need to create a diverse team that acts as an authentic reflection of your customer base.

Fostering an inclusive atmosphere means embracing people of different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, ages, genders, sexuality, abilities and perspectives.  Different voices need to be included in the decision-making process to increase ideas, solve the challenges of your customers and create a genuine experience that is representative of your target audience.

McKinsey’s Delivering through diversity report reveals diversity in business has a significant effect on overall financial return. Through their research they found that in 2017, companies within the top quartile for gender and racial & ethnic diversity, were 21% and 33% respectively, more likely to achieve a level of financial performance above national industry medians within their own corresponding trades.

Being diverse and inclusive within your organisation will not only allow you to access more resources and viewpoints of the people you want to reach but in today’s multicultural world it is also very likely to help your business develop substantially.

3. Create products that reflect your customers’ unmet needs

The development and delivery of Black Panther came at a time when people were crying out for more positive representation within the film industry. Avoiding stereotypes and what is often referred to as “blaxploitation”, Ryan Coogler’s masterpiece navigates the unmet need of presenting black characters in a position of positive power. By carving out a niche within an underrepresented community, Marvel is now able to successfully launch more products to this target market because they have demonstrated that they understand the specific challenges and problems being faced by this community.

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty collection provides another perfect example of a brand tapping into a pre-existing market to cater to the unique unmet needs of a community. Having launched in September 2017, Rihanna’s makeup line recorded over $72 million in earned media value within its first month, this includes impressions across social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, according to  Tribe Dynamics’ Cosmetics report for September.

The main reason for the success behind Fenty Beauty is due to its inclusiveness. The makeup collection not only has products for a variety of skin tones with over 40 shades of foundation but also addresses a key issue within the makeup industry regarding foundation names. It is clear that a lot of research was undertaken and customers were listened to, as the products created have filled a gap in the beauty market that many customers have been longing for.

Instead of looking at people as customers, think of them as extensions of your organisation and members of a wider community relating to your product. Immerse yourself in customer stories to increase best practices and create the products you community members want and need.

4. Don’t be seduced by technology

Wakanda is the name you’ve inevitably heard echoing throughout the world. It is the highly technologically advanced nation of Black Panther, that presents itself as primitive to the rest of the world in order to maintain and protect its resources. An interesting point of contention throughout the film centres around the use of this technology for evil and how many are easily seduced by the power it brings.

This is reflective of the way in which many companies are seduced by technology and use this as a focal point to their customer experience strategy, rather than focusing it around the customers themselves.

Your customers want access to technology that will enhance their experience and solve their pains. This does not mean they want innovations reminiscent of sci-fi films. Simple is best, put your customers first and build your technology around them to enhance their customer experience.

The use of digital technologies to solve smaller issues along the customer journey is often found to have the biggest overall positive impact on customers. Just Eat demonstrated this by creating a chatbot that injected fun into food ordering, by implementing a chatbot that allows people to search for local restaurants using food emojis and keywords. Since its launch it has gained a lot of success by driving new customer growth, encouraging repeat orders and increasing conversion rates.

In summary

  • Ensure you are providing a service or product that empowers your customers and fulfils their emotional needs.
  • If you want to target a diverse customer base, start with having a diverse team and be inclusive in the decision-making processes of your organisation to enable a higher chance of success.
  • Research your target market and find what customer pains and cultural needs are not being met and build your products and services around this.
  • Create a customer experience strategy that places the customer first and technology second.

Black Panther has taught us that a culture-centred strategy is the future of customer experience. 2018 is the year of Wakanda. 

“Wakanda Forever”