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Customer loyalty · 

5 minutes

Cormac O'SullivanPiggy

Exploring the Dynamics of Key Customer Loyalty Models

The essence of maintaining a healthy customer base lies in the concept of customer loyalty. Loyalty is not just about making a customer buy a product or service repeatedly, but it's about creating such an impression that the customer becomes an advocate for the brand, generating positive word-of-mouth. A diverse range of models has been proposed over the years to help businesses understand and improve customer loyalty. This article will explore these models, delving into their key principles and usage.

Why is Customer Loyalty Important?

Customer loyalty is pivotal in the business world and has a myriad of benefits that can lead to an organization's success. Here's why it holds so much importance.

Boosts Customer Lifetime Value

Loyal customers contribute significantly to an organization's Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). According to Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95%. Loyal customers tend to buy more frequently and spend more than new customers, increasing their CLV.

Fuels Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is an extremely effective method to attract new customers. A Nielsen report shows that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know over any other type of advertising. Loyal customers, being brand advocates, are more likely to recommend your product or service to others, bolstering your reputation and customer base.

Reduces Marketing Costs

Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one, as reported by Harvard Business Review. Marketing costs can be significantly reduced when your focus is on maintaining a loyal customer base. These savings can be allocated to other important business activities.

Enhances Customer Feedback

Loyal customers are more likely to provide honest feedback, helping you improve your products or services. Microsoft's survey revealed that 77% of customers view a company more favorably if it seeks and uses customer feedback.

Facilitates Expansion

According to Forbes, loyal customers are more likely to buy new products. When a business decides to expand its product line, a loyal customer base provides an initial market to launch and test new products.

By understanding and acknowledging the importance of customer loyalty, businesses can strategize better and optimize their resources to foster a loyal customer base. Ultimately, this aids in achieving sustained business growth and profitability.

What is a Model of Customer Loyalty?

A customer loyalty model is a theoretical framework that elucidates how customer loyalty is built, maintained, and influenced. These models offer businesses a strategic approach to enhancing customer retention and loyalty, taking into consideration various factors like customer satisfaction, customer experience, and customer relationship management. The primary objective of these models is to cultivate loyal customers who not only make repeat purchases but also promote the brand or business through word-of-mouth marketing.

The Apostle Model of Customer Loyalty

Developed by Prus and Brandt, the Apostle model has been revered for its simplicity and applicability in strategic marketing. The model evaluates customers on two metrics - satisfaction and loyalty, creating a four-quadrant framework.

The Apostles quadrant contains customers who are both highly satisfied and highly loyal. They are the ideal customers, often acting as brand advocates who not only remain loyal to the company but also promote it through positive word of mouth. Building and maintaining a high percentage of Apostles is the ultimate goal of any business.

The Mercenaries quadrant, on the other hand, comprises customers who are highly satisfied but show low loyalty. These customers may switch brands for better offers or services. Therefore, businesses need to strategize to convert these Mercenaries into Apostles. Offering personalized customer experiences, running loyalty programs, and consistently providing high-quality products or services could help increase the loyalty of this group.

Dynamic Model of Customer Loyalty

The Dynamic model of customer loyalty, as the name suggests, is based on the understanding that loyalty isn't a static concept. It evolves over time, requiring businesses to continuously adapt their strategies to retain customers and build loyalty.

The model is categorized into different stages of loyalty, including cognitive loyalty (knowledge about the brand), affective loyalty (emotional connection with the brand), conative loyalty (intention to buy), and action loyalty (actual repeat purchases).

Cognitive loyalty is developed when the customer has had a positive interaction with the brand, forming a basic knowledge and positive impression of it. Affective loyalty is a step further where the customer has an emotional connection with the brand. Conative loyalty is when the customer has the intention to purchase the brand's product or service, and finally, action loyalty is when the intention turns into actual repeat purchases. This model underscores the importance of consistent engagement with customers to nurture this journey from cognitive to action loyalty.

Two-Dimensional Model of Customer Loyalty

Richard L. Oliver, in his Two-Dimensional model, emphasizes the coexistence of attitudinal and behavioral loyalty for true customer loyalty. He asserts that just repeat purchases (behavioral loyalty) or positive attitude towards the brand (attitudinal loyalty) alone isn't enough. For businesses to enjoy sustainable success, both dimensions need to be present and aligned.

Attitudinal loyalty can be achieved through targeted marketing campaigns that project positive brand image and value. Behavioral loyalty can be fostered by ensuring high-quality products and services, along with excellent customer service. It is essential for companies to consistently monitor and improve both dimensions. Customer feedback, satisfaction surveys, and market research can help in understanding where the business stands concerning these two dimensions of loyalty and what actions are needed to improve.

Rai Srivastava’s Model of Customer Loyalty

Rai Srivastava’s model delves deeper into the factors influencing customer loyalty by exploring both internal and external influences. The model suggests that customer loyalty isn't merely a result of direct interaction between the company and the customer. Instead, it is also influenced by external factors such as marketing activities, public relations, and the overall reputation of the company in the market.

Internal factors, on the other hand, include customer satisfaction, customer expectations, and customer experience, among others. To apply this model effectively, companies need to adopt a comprehensive approach that involves regular customer feedback, market research, and data analysis. By understanding customer expectations and the level of satisfaction, businesses can improve their strategies and efforts to enhance loyalty.

The Customer Loyalty Ladder Model

Conceived by Philip Kotler, the Customer Loyalty Ladder model is another influential model that businesses can utilize. The model presents customer loyalty as a five-step ladder consisting of Prospect, Customer, Client, Supporter, and Advocate.

Each step up the ladder signifies an increased level of loyalty, with Advocates being the most loyal customers who actively promote the brand. The objective is to convert as many customers as possible into Advocates. To achieve this, businesses need to focus on delivering excellent customer experiences, offer high-quality products or services, and run effective marketing campaigns. Notably, this model illustrates that customer loyalty is not an overnight achievement but a gradual process that requires consistent and strategic efforts.


In the realm of marketing, customer loyalty models play a crucial role in devising effective strategies to enhance customer retention and loyalty. Each model offers unique perspectives and focuses on different aspects of customer loyalty. Businesses can choose a model that aligns with their objectives and market conditions, effectively integrating it into their customer relationship management strategy. With the appropriate model, businesses can foster customer loyalty, leading to sustainable growth and success in today's dynamic market environment.

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