The answer is a cliché- “it depends”.....
Dr Joseph Duran called it as the ‘vital few and the trivial many’, based on his studies on the Pareto’s principle (the 80:20 rule for beginners)
Sophistication in accounting methods now makes it possible to look at the cost benefits of various marketing actions. Professors Cooper and Kaplan at the Harvard Business School has shown that in a large number of companies, 20 per cent of customers account for 225 per cent of profits. This clearly shows that the remaining 80 per cent `screws up’ 125 per cent of profits. They called it as the 20-225 rule. These spoilsports are JAY’s who are deliberate troublemakers, but can include Mrs.Doubtfuls too. Such doubtfuls, if falls in the top 20 per cent of Cooper and Kaplan analysis, clearly the customer is (always) right and require specific steps to address her doubts. If she falls in the remaining 80 percent, assess whether she is a “convertible”, ”belligerent” or a “time pass” and act accordingly.
Most of the doubtfuls, regardless of whether they are in the good 20 or the bad 80, are meek and hence don’t ask or complain. This segment is dangerous if not handled head on and if no efforts are taken to find out what exactly are they doubtful about. Some doubtfuls, for example may be high roller customers who don’t mind spending like hell provided they get the best out of such spends( Greed u may call it, so be it). Just see the fact that the way Indian consumer spends money has dramatically changed over the past few years. The share being spent on the basics (food, beverages and so on) has fallen from 54.07%in 1992-93 to 44.8%in 2002-03, but for the same period for healthcare it has risen from 3.5% to 8.6% and for communication it has grown at 13.2%. Now it becomes the responsibility of the marketer to realize this change and manage the doubtfuls.
Even if a doubtful belongs to the bad 80, should she be thrown out like one would do with a “thief, rule breaker, family feuder, vandal, or a dead beat”? Unlike JAY’s, doubtfuls (except the belligerent and time pass) can be cultivated and converted and once convinced will even be a good spokesperson. This is the angle, which marketers with futuristic thinking will have to look upon.
The lesson for marketers
Marketers and marketing communicators(the good old ag adencies as they want to be called these days) do the mistake of communicating what they do not have and not communicating what they actually have.. this is more often true than a matter of fiction and this is one of the main reasons for doubtful's to remain so.... it is better that the marketers shelve the idea that there is a huge homogeneous market out there, which would behave the same... all of them in a same fashion and with same passion..... Classes and sub classes do exist, and Mrs. doubtfuls do exist too, and it is the marketer’s job to understand her predicaments. She is not a JAY who disturbs business wantonly but a would be future asset. Even those doubtfuls who are belligerent or timepass and seemingly not convertible could be your publicity if treated properly. Marketers should evolve mechanism to cultivate them. After all customers are like kids, they are messy, sometimes violent, sometimes unruly, many times dirty, and gives you sleepless nights, but aren’t they lovely? Aren’t they simply the reason for our existence?