All Customers Are Polygamists and How Direct Marketers Can Understand Them
… A lot of the models that I've developed, I rarely use the word 'polygamy' myself; although I have. But very seriously, a lot of the best principles for these kinds of customer patterns, stem from a gentleman in England, a guy by the name of Andrew Ehrenberg. And he [used] the P word all the time and [wasn't] shy about it. So I think it's actually a pretty well-established metaphor.
In fact, believe it or not, as you called, I was building an Ehrenbergian model on some data set for some confectionary manufacturer. And it's directly building on polygamist principles; which is to say that customers have relationships with lots of different providers at one time. They like some more than others. But, basically, when it's time to make your next purchase, again you're flipping a coin or you're rolling a die to say, 'Which one of my partners do I want to engage in this time?' Some sides of the die are a little bit heavier than others, so they tend to lean towards certain providers more than others.
But it's not like they're in a relationship and then they switch to another relationship. It's a bunch of different relationships going on at once. And I am no expert on how this translates to other forms of relationships. So I won't even claim that I've read the book that you mentioned or anything. But I am not the least bit surprised that people will discover these same kinds of patterns in not only very unrelated domains, but in ways that a lot of businesspeople would find downright offensive. But I believe it.