Using customer relationship trajectories to segment customers and predict profitability
- Publisher: METEOR, Maastricht University School of Business and Economics
A central premise of relationship marketing theory is that economic benefits flow fromretaining customers. However, the early research focus on the duration of the relationship may obscure other important aspects of the interactions with the customer that drive profitability. Borrowing from the branding literature, where different types of customer relationships have been described (but not empirically examined), we study the patterns of business customers’ buying behavior, or trajectories that characterize customer-firm relationships over time, and their impact on profitability. We develop a finite mixture model relating customer relationship trajectories to profitability over a three year period. Our analysis yields five segments, or types of customer-firm relationships, for this dataset. We find key determinants of profitability vary across types of customer relationship. Interestingly, in none of these segments does duration predict profitability.