The impact of need frequency on service marketing strategy

Eileen Bridges*, Katherine B. Ensor, Kalyan Raman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Strategic marketing decisions for services are complicated by factors that distinguish services from goods. Because services are intangible, variable, and the production and consumption experiences are inseparable, trial of the identical service to be purchased cannot be offered. Services cannot be inventoried, so potential customers are lost if they are unaware of a particular service or it is unavailable during their time of need. Partially due to the difficulty of matching service supply to demand, service marketers typically assume that it is best to work toward retaining current clients, rather than focusing too much on attracting new customers. If there is an ongoing or frequent periodic need for the service, it may indeed be less expensive to maintain an existing customer relationship than to build a new one; however, for services that customers require infrequently, the marketer must find ways to build awareness and attract new customers. Just as marketing strategies for manufactured goods depend on whether the items are frequently purchased or durable, more effective service marketing decisions may be obtained by considering whether customer needs are frequent or not. We discuss these differences in general terms, then provide an application, developing an optimal promotion strategy decision model for an infrequently purchased service. We conclude that customers in the market for infrequently purchased services have particularly high needs for product awareness and purchase risk reduction, influencing strategic marketing decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-62
Number of pages23
JournalService Industries Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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