Are frequent customers always a company's intangible asset?: Some findings drawn from an exploratory case study

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Since the early 1990s research has been conducted in an attempt to establish a viable and reliable manner of measuring the intangible assets, also referred to as the intellectual capital, of companies. Several models have been devised, most of them using indicators to evaluate the intangible assets of a given undertaking. In this article, exploratory single case study methodology is used to analyse the behaviour of the “customer retention” indicator, which has been widely used to evaluate a company's relationship capital. One of the largest Brazilian retailing groups is analysed, in order to obtain an in-depth insight into the behaviour of its frequent customers via its digital channel. Conclusions are presented indicating that the role of the frequent customers in an e-retailing company can sometimes be widely divergent from that presented in existing academic literature. Some managerial implications of these conclusions are also presented. © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited