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Customer Base Analysis: An Industrial Purchase Process Application

Author

Listed:
  • David C. Schmittlein

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Robert A. Peterson

    (University of Texas at Austin)

Abstract

Customer base analysis is concerned with using the observed past purchase behavior of customers to understand their current and likely future purchase patterns. More specifically, as developed in Schmittlein et al. (1987), customer base analysis uses data on the frequency, timing, and dollar value of each customer's past purchases to infer • the number of customers currently active, • how that number has changed over time, • which individual customers are most likely still active, • how much longer each is likely to remain an active customer, and • how many purchases can be expected from each during any future time period of interest. In this paper we empirically validate the model proposed by Schmittlein et al. In doing so, we provide one of the few applications of stochastic models to industrial purchase processes and industrial marketing decisions. Besides showing that the model does capture key aspects of the purchase process, we also present a more effective parameter estimation method and some results regarding sampling properties of the parameter estimates. Finally, we extend the model to explicitly incorporate dollar volume of past purchases. Our results indicate that this kind of customer base analysis can be both effective in predicting purchase patterns and in generating insights into how key customer groups differ. The link of both these benefits to industrial marketing decision making is also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • David C. Schmittlein & Robert A. Peterson, 1994. "Customer Base Analysis: An Industrial Purchase Process Application," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 13(1), pages 41-67.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:13:y:1994:i:1:p:41-67
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mksc.13.1.41
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