Part 14: Why Loyal Shoppers Defect

Earlier in this series I provided insights into the habits of shoppers that are loyal to specialty pool retail stores (Loyalists) including the impact of the internet and the “secret sauce.” Next our team looked to understand shoppers who defect from specialty retail stores. It will likely surprise most specialty retailers to learn that, on average, 17 percent of their customers have stopped shopping with them. We asked them why.  

Price is not the primary value driver

While it comes as no surprise that shoppers may leave a retailer based on price, it is not the primary value driver for shopping in specialty stores in the first place. As previously reported, our findings suggest that as shoppers begin to recognize other advantages provided by their retailer, they see price in a different way. For that reason I chose to leave price out of the following chart and get at the underlying issues that could practically be addressed.


The number 1 reason shoppers defect is a missing ingredient in the secret sauce.

51 percent of all shopper defection can be correlated to secret sauce ingredients. Comments like “salespeople aren’t knowledgeable” and “don’t have the products I’m looking for” were typical responses. This ties in with research reported earlier; the “secret sauce” advantages are vitally linked. The simple fact is that Loyalist satisfaction with the overall value provided by their retailer is much lower for each individual advantage than when all are combined. Leaving out just one of these value drivers is akin to omitting a key ingredient in a food recipe. The consumer experience is just not the same. 

The number 2 reason shoppers defect is inconvenient location.

This survey response also confirms our earlier research: location should not be taken for granted. Locations can become disadvantaged due to traffic pattern changes and new competitors. We have seen the case where two stores, in two different locations but addressing identical markets (in-ground pools within a 10-mile radius, for example), have totally different traffic despite their similar promotion and merchandising strategies. A glance at the maps showed us why: one store is on a busy thoroughfare and enjoys good access to pool-rich neighborhoods. The other, also on a busy highway, is cut off from feeder areas because the thoroughfare has a significant median barrier that discourages left turns, and/or the store’s trading area is bisected by a waterway, interstate highway or other impedance.   

Your turn 

Preventing defection is critical to the success of a specialty retailer. But there is a paradox. We often find that retailers perform no ongoing shopping or consumer surveys to measure performance, satisfaction and customer loyalty which would help determine steps to prevent defection. How do you see this? What thoughts and experiences can you share in this area?

Read the previous entry in this series: The Specialty Pool Store Loyalist and the Internet 

Page 1 of 155
Next Page
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library