Part 16: How Do Loyal Retail Customers Change Over Time?

When it comes to distinguishing demographics, our research concludes that there is much similarity on the surface between consumers who purchase most of their pool products from one store (Loyalists) and those who do not (Nonloyalists). Characteristics such as age of head of household, yearly income, education, type of pool owned and length of current pool ownership were not distinguishable between the two groups.

For example, while “average years of pool ownership” is less for the Nonloyalist (12.5 years vs. 14 years for a Loyalist), there is no compelling evidence of a major difference based solely on this data. It is only when we go below the surface that a startling fact becomes clear.


The longer Loyalists own their pool, the greater the risk of defection!

As seen in this chart, 60 percent of Loyalists have owned their pool longer than 11 years. But only 34 percent of Loyalists have continued to shop at their current store over that time. This fact infers that the longer Loyalists own their pool, the greater the risk of defection. 

Loyalist satisfaction decreases over time

Based on these findings, we wondered if we would see a difference in pool owners’ satisfaction with the overall value provided by their retailer based on the number of years they have owned their pool. The percent of Loyalists who told us they perceive the advantages of the "secret sauce" (applied knowledge and product line) dropped from 36 percent for 1 to 10 years of pool ownership to only 22 percent for 11+ years of pool ownership. And satisfaction with overall retailer value decreased by 12 percent during that same interval.

Do longer term Loyalists represent a group with unique needs and preferences that are not being sufficiently met? We believe that is the case. Applied knowledge and product line advantages must evolve to meet the needs of the longer-term pool owner. That means that people, products, programs, training and execution must be adapted to the needs of the more mature Loyalist. Otherwise there is significant risk of continued Loyalist defection.

Your turn 

  • Is it possible that retailers are taking more mature Loyalists for granted?  
  • Have retailers paid sufficient attention to this customer category as uniquely important? 
  • How do you see this issue? What thoughts and experiences can you share in this area?

We are shining a spotlight on this problem with the goal of helping retailers improve. Remember, even if you see yourself as the best, there is no finish line.

Read the previous post in this series: How to Stop Your Loyal Customers from Defecting

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