'Repeat Buying' Refreshed

Colin McDonald
Communications Research

Maps, once we have got used to them, tend to be taken for granted. The charted landmarks, the road systems, the most economical way to get from A to B, cease to be of direct concern and become part of the assumed background to our thinking. And, because we quickly forget what it was like when there were no landmarks and no way of seeing the right road, we also forget those who made the maps, and lose sight of our debt to them.

Andrew Ehrenberg is the first and still the most convincing map-maker in marketing science. His discoveries (I deliberately prefer that word to either 'models' or 'observations' for reasons which may become clear) have permanently altered the way we think about consumer behaviour. Certain ideas which were possible before (for example, that a brand could be made to grow simply by causing its current buyers to buy it more heavily) are now simply out of court. We have been affected by this changed perspective for nearly 20 years, and have typically forgotten how and why it happened and, perhaps, lost sight of its implications. It is therefore timely that Ehrenberg's 'Repeat Buying' has now gone into a second edition, the first since 1972.