Part 1: How Well Do Pool Retailers Understand Their Customers?

L Bloom PictureHow well do you know your customers? Many swimming pool retailers would say, “I know them very well! I’ve been helping them with their pools for years."

However, we beg to (politely) differ. Most retailers do not fully understand their customers’ expectations, nor do they appreciate what makes them stand apart. While busy retailers may see very little difference among their various customers, the little differences that exist will make a big difference in the success of their business. Unfortunately, retailers who don’t pay attention may find themselves littering the bankruptcy landscape. 

How can we make such audacious assertions?

It’s because they are based on evidence. With the help of P.K. Data, we conducted a ground-breaking survey of pool owners and correlated the results with real-world pool consumer purchase data and one-on-one interviews. This multidimensional study was the first of its kind. Our goal was to understand the characteristics of pool owners that are loyal to a single specialty retail store compared with those that are not — a subject that’s been largely uncharted. This article is the first in a series that will share the results. 

Is there such a thing as a loyal customer?

Who and what are loyal customers? Are they really out there? Will they identify themselves and share what makes them tick? We took a novel approach to find the answers — we asked them! A representative sample of the approximately 5 million in-ground pool owners were asked to categorize themselves by this question: Where do you shop for most of your pool product needs? Here is what we found:

• 55 percent purchase from a single specialty retail store. We call these Loyalists.

• 15 percent shop at more than one specialty store. We call these Specialty Channel Shoppers.

• 30 percent shop mainly at other outlets. We call these Multi-channel Shoppers.

Bloom Chart

What do retailers know about Loyalists? 

On the average, 55 percent of a retailer’s customers are Loyalists. Loyalists have purchased most of their products from one specialty store in the past, and it is reasonable to expect them to purchase from that store in the future. That is, unless pool retailers fail to maintain the advantages these customers desire. 

But exactly what advantages do Loyalists seek and respond to? And how are retailers doing in providing these advantages? Are Loyalists worth the effort? What is the potential for Loyalist defection? How can a retailer win? What about the Nonloyalists? If you are a retailer and have all the answers, you are way ahead of the game. Unfortunately, our research confirms that there is a huge gap between what Loyalists desire and what retailers are providing. 

We will answer these questions and more in upcoming blog articles derived from our research. And we hope to stimulate discussion, debate and crowd-sourced solutions for the benefit of the industry along the way.  

Your turn.

In fact, let’s start here. Whether you are a retailer or not, how well do you think specialty pool retailers understand their customers, and how do they use that knowledge to help their business?  

Read the next post in this series: What is the Value of Loyal Retail Pool Customers?

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