Customer Experience, Helium

Today’s Unicorns Want To Own Their Customers

Wait, what? Well..not literally, but they do want to become a prominent part your life. When we say “unicorns” we’re talking about private companies valued over $1BN.

Brands are always looking for different ways to engage their customers: apps, social, emails, personalized experiences, retargeting campaigns. They usually measure their success using things like analytics reports, customer surveys, NPS scores, etc. – all of which are very valid ways to track engagement metrics.

What most companies lack is an overall customer strategy or vision that drives them towards “owning” a piece of their customer's life. Basically, being something a customer spends time doing or thinking about.

For years, credit card companies have continuously fought to grow what they call the “share of wallet”. That is, the amount of spend customers made through any single credit card. The more they used that card, the larger share of wallet that credit card company had.

That’s a pretty simple principle and it holds true when you think about customer engagement strategies. The same way share of wallet tracks how much spend is made across a single card, "share of life" accounts for how much of your day is spent engaging one way or another with a single brand. The unicorns know this all too well.

If you look at today’s list of top unicorns and three things stood out:

1. Clear market dominance in their space
2. Many of them have been born into the digital age.
3. They’ve made their living by owning a specific piece of their customer’s lives.

Let’s name a few big guys: Airbnb, WeWork, Spotify, and Slack.

Personally, I use each of these services – a lot. It’s not because they’re the only option, some aren’t even the cheapest option. But they’ve all created something that makes it ridiculously easy for their customer to come back to, and in the process, they now “own” that piece of that customer’s life.

When I listen to music – I use Spotify. When I collaborate with colleagues, I’m on Slack. When I go on vacation, I use Airbnb, and when I’m working, I’m probably at a WeWork. These companies have taken a deliberate stance at attempting to own a piece of my life, and they’re doing it (very well, at that).

The way you buy, engage, and speak to these companies is just better than others. It’s not just one thing you can point to that makes them great, it’s usually a collection of things. Many of them have also found different, clever ways to integrate themselves into other parts of your life, too (i.e. Spotify in your Uber, Slack with...literally everything).

Many times, my decision to use the companies or services I do is non-negotiable. I’ve committed. By creating a customer-centric environment and making it about me, they’ve made my decision as a buyer incredibly easy.

And it’s not just the unicorns that are fighting to increase the share of life of their customers – Google, Amazon, and Apple are in a heated race to put assistants in homes to continue to capture more and more of their customer's lives, while Netflix is trying to own the TV.

These companies all realize that their customer is a human being - not a conversion metric. Sure, data helps them make decisions, but their entire business is built on the heels of deeply knowing their customer.

The point here isn’t that brands should reinvent their core. It’s that once they focus their efforts on the big picture of increasing their customers share of life in a meaningful way, the impact is much greater than a single set of engagement metrics.

What’s your take?

Helium helps brands build customer strategies and execute on those strategies through technology. To find out more, check us out at