The origins of customer-centric marketing date back to the direct marketing revolution of the 1960s, largely credited to the marketing guru Lester Wunderman. Up to that point, marketers had largely focused on mass media (like television and radio) to reach their customers. With the rise of direct marketing, marketers began to shift their focus from reaching the largest number of potential customers to reaching individual users in the most efficient and relevant way possible through channels like direct mail.
Direct marketing enabled more efficient – and more measurable – marketing communication.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, innovations like loyalty cards enabled brick-and-mortar retailers to begin tracking the behavior of individual customers, and reaching out to them with targeted messaging and offers. The rise of the internet and e-commerce in the late 1990s created a revolution in the opportunities available for customer-centric marketing. With insight into the shopping behavior of individual customers – and the ability to reach those customers directly through channels like email – marketers can finally reach the right customers, at the right time, with the right message.