Online retailers have deeply explored how to find similarities between their customers. Users who bought X also bought Y and its variants are omnipresent and widely developed.
There’s a strange absence, though, when it comes to making visible the ongoing relationship of a consumer to a product. How much brand loyalty do they display?
To take an example: I’m currently planning to buy a new laptop. I’m very interested in build quality. Testing by experts isn’t much good at exposing flaws in build: it’s near-impossible to simulate the effects of daily use over a period of years. Aggregated user reviews are more helpful: lots of complaints about cracked screens probably reflect a common problem. But they’re biased towards defects which are discrete, and big enough to inspire angry reviews.
What I want to know is: do users who buy a Vaio buy another one three years later? Or do they switch to Dell? I really want is a measure of user loyalty. And we have one: it’s easy to count how many users will re-order the same product, or another from the same product line. Do customers who bought X tend to re-order X? Or do they switch to X’s competitors?
This information is readily available to any online retailer, or even to an offline seller tracking loyalty cards or credit cards. But I’m not aware of anybody making it visible to users. Why not?