by September 17, 2001 0 comments



Which creative director won’t love to create them? Which product manager won’t love to have them? And which marketing whiz kid won’t want to wax eloquent about them?

But do they really exist? We are talking of loyal customers–those who come back to you after having bought your product once.

How loyal is the average IT customer? The PCQuest Users’ Choice survey does provide some answers. The survey asked respondents to mention
currently-used brands along with brands they intended to buy. If both were the same, we take it that the respondent is loyal to the particular brand.

The table below shows the percentage loyalty recorded by most product categories (we’ve omitted categories where the measures weren’t significant enough). Loyalty percentages are given separately for business respondents and for SOSB/home respondents. There is also the same split by metro and non-metro respondents.

The table makes for interesting reading. Let’s start with the most obvious inferences. One, brand loyalty is more in non-metros than in metros; and two, brand loyalty is more in large businesses than in small businesses and homes. In hindsight, both these results should’ve been fairly obvious.

This trend is reversed only in the case of back-up devices, CD Writers, software development tools, Web-development software, and accounting software in metro versus non-metro, and modems in large business versus small.

Considering that the non-metros and SOSBs/homes constitute the future potential markets, the inferences are quite obvious. Well-known brands will have a head-start in non-metros, while all brands will have an uphill task when it comes to the home market.

Now, let’s look at some of the more interesting results in the table.

Category Total Large
business
SOSB Metro Non-metro
Desktop PCs 56 60 39 52 64
Notebooks 58 61 20 52 74
High-end workstations 77 77   67 100
Cellphones 57 58 54 52 74
Monitors 58 61 50 53 70
Dot-matrix printers 73 73 68 70 78
Inkjet printers 76 79 54 72 86
Laser printers 67 67   64 85
High-speed printers 61 61   56 100
Scanners 80 85 46 74 95
UPSs 62 64 49 60 71
ISDN devices 93  93    90  100
Modems  49  47  58  42  72
Back-up devices  92  92    96  80
CD Writers  77  80 64  80  72
Hard disks  79  84 66  79  80
Floppy disks  79  79  78  76  88
ERP solutions  82  82    80  100
RDBMSs  61  61    57 80
Network OSs  76 76   76 76
Professional graphics software 67 73 50 67 67
Software-development tools 68 68   73 56
Web-development software 70 0   73 63
Accounting software  83  83    85 85
Indian-language software   80 92 67 67 100
Anti-virus software 80 85 66 70 92
ISP – Dial-up 75 80 54 72 81
ISP – Broadband 93 98 33 79 100
Free e-mail 57 71 38 51 77
Instant messengers 72 74 69 69 80
Note: All figures are in
percent

The lowest loyalty levels (below 40 percent) have all been registered in the SOSB segment, and they are (in decreasing levels of loyalty) for PCs, free e-mail, broadband ISP and notebooks. It’s interesting that PCs should have such low brand-loyalty levels, if you consider the fact that PCs have already become a commodity item that is increasingly sold on lifestyle promise than on tech specs.

On the flip side, the highest brand loyalty has been recorded in the non-metros, with six product categories: high-end workstations, high-speed printers, ISDN devices, ERP solutions, Indian-language software, and broadband ISP recording 100 percent.

Do we see a pattern here? High-end workstations, high-speed printers and ERP solutions could perhaps be seen as the most ‘tech-heavy’ of the product categories.

An interesting case is that of broadband ISP, which registered both the highest and lowest loyalty levels, albeit in differing segments.

Now, I am no brand expert, and shall desist from propounding further on this subject, instead leave the experts to debate the topic further. Good luck.

Krishna Kumar

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