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Customers' relationship expectations and costs as segmentation variables: preliminary evidence from banking

Sergios Dimitriadis (Marketing and Communication Department, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 5 July 2011




This paper aims to explore benefits customers expect from a long‐term relationship with their bank and the costs associated with such a relationship; it further tests these relational benefits and costs as segmentation variables.


A qualitative study based on three focus groups was designed to provide initial input on different types of expected relational benefits and costs. Then, quantitative data were collected from a survey of 209 real bank customers.


Analysis reveals five types of expected benefits and two types of costs. Four clusters were formed out of these seven expected benefits/costs. These clusters are also different on demographic, behavioral and psychographic variables and present clear and consistent relational profiles.

Research limitations/implications

Scales developed from the focus groups need further validation. Also, findings should be considered as sector and context specific. This work brings additional insight into the nature of expected relational benefits and costs, supports their usefulness for customer segmentation and offers opportunities for studying relational benefits and costs in an integrated way.

Practical implications

Findings provide managers with a better understanding of what customers value in the relationship with their bank and what keeps customers back from having a “close” relationship. Also, relational benefits/costs segmentation is suggested as a powerful tool for targeting and positioning.


The study identifies new types of relational benefits and costs. It is the first time expected relational benefits and costs are studied together and confirmed as meaningful segmentation variables.



Dimitriadis, S. (2011), "Customers' relationship expectations and costs as segmentation variables: preliminary evidence from banking", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 294-308.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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