David Baker provides some interesting insights on customer lifecycle. I quite like the idea of identifying "switch points" when a customer is likely to switch to another product/brand or is ready to move to a product in the higher tier. The key question to me though is the ability of companies to identify such "customer states" or "behaviour states". Marketing needs to quickly start learning that art of using customer information, drill down and observe these changes in customer patterns and take appropriate action.
If you are like most people, you have stages of life and all things around you; people and environments change dramatically over time. We have an early life stage where we learn the primary elements of surviving in this mixed world, the basics, as we could call it. This is where we form our basic judgments, values and shape who we are and the paths we'll lead. This is where we learn to develop our community of generations, or simply break out and build our own communities. We have many milestones that we go through: high school graduation, college for some, young adult life in the working force, family development and planting roots into a community. We then drift into the middle stages of our life, where many foster these communities and evolve the next stage of life till we get to the celebrated later stages of our life and bask in our wealth and watch our families grow up.
A customer lifecycle is just that. It is the foundation of consumer involvement with your brand over time. A customer lifecycle can shift over time, as consumers come in and out of different lifestages.
The key to marketing exactness in developing a lifecycle program is to identify "switch points" when a customer is likely to shift away from your brand, consider new alternatives and potentially develop some brand affinity with your competitor. Many in the marketing space trigger off of key income milestones. We graduate from college, we get married and have dual incomes, we start a family, we invest in our first home, we buy our first automobile, we consider life insurance as a means of protecting our family, we look more closely at investment options. All are viable triggers.
Don't purge that consumer from your database or program if they don't respond; don't purge them if they don't buy. Look deeper and see if a lifestage is influencing their involvement with your brand. That's the essence of marketing!