Balancing Research Between Loyal and Transient Consumers

5 min readApr 5, 2019

Customer Relationship management can be tricky to navigate, especially considering that there are two different types of customers to content with. Within our recent research report, we have identified two prominent tribes that all consumers fall into: The Loyal and the Disconnected. Balancing research between the two tribes is essential if brands wish to gain a deep understanding into their customer base and generate actionable insights that will transform their customer loyalty schemes.

Tweet This: Balancing research between Loyal and Transient customers is essential to gain a deep understanding into the make-up of a brand’s customer-base and to generate insights that will transform their customer loyalty schemes.

The Balancing Act

Balancing the research between two tribes can be tricky considering that they both have different characteristics, decision-making processes, and motivations for shopping with your brand. Taking the time to develop a relationship with both tribes in order to understand them better will be tricky, but that can be done through quality research and marketing.

Not only do you have to balance time between the two groups, but also resources. The amount of time you spend on each tribe will depend on which is most important to the brand, but splitting time to understand both will work to allow a better understanding of both tribes and increase future opportunities for business growth. Whereas simply researching the customer-base you desire at the time will provide short-term gains rather than long-term prospects.

The resources available to use depend on the research requirements (time, budget, end use for insights, etc.) and objectives the brand has. All of this contributes to the prior consideration brands need to do to determine the different research approaches available to them to produce the best research experience for both the tribes and the brand.

For those acting on a smaller budget, this can pose a bit of a problem as it narrows down your options in terms of attaining the research resources needed (platform, tools, etc.) to create the research experience; and so, the research platform and strategy you use will have to enable the research of both tribes to be conducted to the best of your ability. However, for those with a larger budget, there are numerous technologies and tools you could use to create your custom market research technology stack to help get the most out of your research experience.

Loyal Research Community

There are a number of approaches brands could take to researching their loyal customer-base, however, building a research community is typically a one of the best courses of action if the desired result is in-depth, actionable insights.

Providing loyal customers with a platform to interact with each other through forums and blogs will provide a level of insight that typical structured research might not be able to create. Topics and threads can be created within the communal areas to provide prompts on which aspects of the product and brand the researchers would like information on most.

However, this isn’t to say that structured research should be discounted entirely; structured research experiences can be created to enhance the insights generated from the online community, but then they are able to discuss this afterwards and might provide more insights brands can then record and follow up on if necessary. This approach lends itself to insight-led research too, where the structured research is designed with the insights already generated from the conversations already had between participants, and more information is needed to get a deeper understanding. The insight-led approach allows brands to manage their funds more effectively, as follow up structured research occurs as and when necessary to enhance the insights already gained from the forums.

A traditional metric that businesses like to use to identify loyal customers is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This attempts to measure how likely their customers are likely to recommend their brand, product, and service to another potential customer. NPS on its own is not accurate, but combining it with other research into emotional context brings it slightly closer. Diary studies or Mystery Shopper Research documenting regular experiences with brands, for example, can provide the context needed as to why they are likely to recommend the brand to others.

Researching Transient Customers

There are a couple of approaches that brands can take when researching transient customers, but first, setting out objectives for your research is a must. This may sound like basic knowledge, but these transient customers aren’t going to stick around long enough to see a drawn-out long-term research plan through to the end, so a more flexible insight-led approach will not work in this case. Deciding what aspects of these customers’ lives and processes you wish to understand and then create the research experience to strictly follow those objectives. From there, there are two approaches that can be taken to research transient customers:

The Survey Approach

These are the customers that are going to be a bit trickier to incentivise when it comes to taking part in market research. Transient customers aren’t necessarily going to have the time or inclination to be a part of a long-term research community dedicated to one brand. With their temporary nature, they likely won’t stick around for long to contribute anything of value either. Therefore, the survey approach seems to be the best chance of researching these customers. Designing a few short surveys or one larger survey (be careful not to make it too time-consuming and repetitive) that provide direct answers to a brand’s research objectives is the fastest and simplest way.

Short-term Community Panel Approach

Saying this, allowing them to be a part of a short-term research community with other like-minded transient customers might be the incentive they need to place some trust and loyalty into the instigating brand. This could work because they are allowed to be who they are, the whole point of their community is to research and get a better understanding of their needs. The time taken will likely be appreciated by the customers and work to build a working relationship between the two sides. This research will have to be less brand-focussed and more customer-focussed for this approach to work well, and allow participants to come and go as they please, as some will doubtless leave when they need to but that allows for new participants enter to build on what the former participants built.

Tweet This: Splitting your time between loyal and transient customers will maximise the both the short-term and long-term opportunities available to the brand. However, that doesn’t mean the balance has to be 50/50.

Balancing isn’t always 50/50

Now that a couple of possible approaches have been outlined for each tribe, it’s time to work them in together. As mentioned earlier, splitting your time between the two tribes will maximise the opportunities available to the brand in the future. However, that doesn’t mean the balance has to be 50/50. Depending on the weight of importance you put on the tribes, you can split your time 75/25 or 60/40 or however you want to. Focussing your time on one tribe more than the other is possible as long as an equal amount of effort is put into maintaining a positive relationship with both tribes of customers.

The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.




FlexMR is The Insights Empowerment Company. We help brands to act decisively, stay close to customers and embed agile insight at the heart of every decision.