All Customers Are Polygamists and How Direct Marketers Can Understand Them
… I've had the luxury for 24 years on the Wharton faculty now of being able to choose what kinds of data sets I want to look at, what kinds of companies and industries I want to work with. … And so a couple of things have happened over the years. No. 1, I've observed that a lot of the basic patterns of customers doing things over time are remarkably similar, even when you look across seemingly unrelated domains. So a lot of the patterns that we'd see in a very mundane consumer packaged goods setting, you know, someone buying a kid's juice drink and deciding whether or not or when to buy it again and so on, would carry over surprisingly well to, let's say, more of a direct marketing, e-commerce kind of situation. It's just remarkable that when you strip away a lot of the nouns and adjectives that we use to describe our data sets and instead just say, 'You know what? We have an Excel spreadsheet and the rows are customers and the columns are some kind of activity over time. And we don't care if it's buying, we don't care if it's website browsing or contacts with customer service or whatever else. We just want to track customers over time, regardless of what domain it's from.' It's amazing how robust a lot of these patterns are.
So I spent a lot of time over the last 10 years, especially, trying to establish some of these similarities, some of these regularities and looking across different industries and saying, 'See? Here, it's happened again.' And occasionally saying, 'Hey, you know what? This one's a little different. This firm or industry's a little different. But at least we have some benchmarks to be able to be able to appreciate the existence, the nature and magnitude of some of those differences.