Gartner Blog Network

Do you know your top 1% customers?

by Don Scheibenreif  |  May 7, 2019  |  2 Comments

Most organizations have a good idea who their best customers are. But do you know who your top 1% are? Do you know how are they using technology for advantage? Who are their role models? What does this mean for organizations?

Last year, Ed Thompson, Jenny Sussin and I explored these questions as part of Gartner’s annual Maverick research competition.  Maverick research is our incubator for new ideas. We have fun challenging Gartner’s mainstream research and positions. This helps clients take advantage of trends and insights that could impact their strategy and their organization.

The result is  Maverick* Research: How Billionaires Use Technology as a Weapon and How Your 1% Most Valuable Customers Will Too. This research intentionally contradicts prevailing wisdom, namely that the internet and technology are great equalizers. Instead, we suggest that technology is a key way that the wealthiest people gain, retain and grow their wealth and position. And, this is being imitated by your 1% most valuable customers. Often at your expense. We believe that learning how the elite use new technologies as a weapon will prepare CIOs and CX leaders for what is coming next in customer engagement.

What We Found

  • The most successful techniques for and approaches to using technology by billionaires are imitated by the next tier in society, and so on down. This means that what your most valuable 1% learn from the wealthy elite will impact your organization sooner or later.
  • The past 20 years have seen the unequal access to information and technology between supplier and customer shift in favor of the customer. In some cases, particularly the top 1% most valuable, customers now have access to more information and technology than their suppliers and can exert astonishing influence.
  • The top 1% most valuable of your customer base needs more active management, because they are better at using informational, referent and technology expert powers than in the past (historical sources of power amplified in the digital age).

What Organizations Can Do

  • Investigate how your 1% most valuable customers use referent, informational and expert powers to achieve their own ends. Make proposals to mitigate their negative actions.
  • Position your organization to benefit more from the top 1% most valuable of your customers by
    • Learn Who your 1% most valuable customers are and what percentage of revenue, profit and lifetime value they represent
    • Turn: Your Insights Into Strategy
    • Earn Their Loyalty While Protecting Your Profitability

Billionaires have used and will use technology to gain and keep power and wealth; now, so will the 1% most valuable of your customers. This trend represents the continued erosion of your ability to control the nature of your relationships with your customers.  Savvy digital leaders can help their organization to be prepared for the ways in which the 1% most valuable  customers can hurt their business.



Additional Resources

CRM Strategy and Customer Experience Primer for 2019

We outline our 2019 research plans for CRM and CX to help application leaders support these two different mission-critical priorities.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: crm  crm-strategy-and-customer-experience  

Don Scheibenreif
Vice President and Distinguished Analyst
9 years at Gartner
9 years IT Industry

Don Scheibenreif is a Distinguished VP Analyst with Gartner's Customer Experience research group. He works with with Customer Experience and other IT leaders on how emerging trends and digital business will impact CX and enterprise digital transformation. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Do you know your top 1% customers?

  1. Mark Amtower says:

    Excellent piece.

    This reminds me of Vic Hunter’s book, Business to Business Marketing: Creating a Community of Customers (1997). Given your background, you probably saw him speak in the 1990s or early 2000s at one of the B2B marketing conferences.

    Also reminds me of Regis McKenna’s Relationship Marketing (1991).

Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.