Apple customers are still the most loyal to their brand, according to
a new survey
by Harris Interactive, the Internet-based research firm. The survey included over 140,000 Internet users, including more than 6,500 who purchased a home personal computer in the first three quarters of 2000.
The study found wide disparity in repurchase loyalty — the percent of brand owners that bought the same brand when they purchased a new home computer — among the top computer brands. For example, just over half (53 percent) of Mac owners who bought a personal computer in the first three-quarters of 2000 repurchased a Mac.
Gateway’s customer loyalty was highest among Wintel brands with a 45 percent repurchase rate. IBM had the lowest repurchase loyalty among the top brands, with only 9 percent. Dell had 40 percent, Hewlett Packard had 33 percent, and Compaq had 29 percent.
“As the consumer PC market matures, repurchase loyalty is a key measure for PC brands,” said Dave Tremblay, director of technology research for Harris Interactive. “First time buyers account for only about one-fifth of all consumer personal computer purchases. While strength in that segment is a bonus, you can’t build a business relying on these buyers. The easiest buyers to capture should be a brand’s current users.”
If a company can’t successfully sell to its own customers, it will likely have problems selling to its competitors’ customers, he added. IBM is a good example of this, according to Tremblay. When IBM de-emphasized its traditional retail consumer distribution channels, its customers abandoned the brand. Fewer than one in ten IBM brand PC owners repurchased an IBM brand PC.
“While strong repurchase loyalty is not enough (witness Apple’s high loyalty but declining share), it is a very good place to start,” Tremblay said.