Product management glosary

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

What is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)?

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a crucial metric in product management and marketing that helps businesses predict the net profit generated from a customer throughout their entire relationship with the company. It is an essential tool for understanding customer behavior, making informed decisions, and allocating resources effectively. In this article, we will explore the concept of CLV, its importance, and how to calculate it.

Understanding Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Lifetime Value is the total revenue a company can expect to earn from a customer during their entire relationship. It takes into account factors such as the average purchase value, the frequency of purchases, and the average customer lifespan. By understanding the CLV, businesses can make better decisions about customer acquisition, retention, and marketing strategies.

For example, if a company knows that the average CLV of its customers is $1,000, it can use this information to determine how much it should spend on acquiring new customers or retaining existing ones. If the cost of acquiring a new customer is $200, the company can still make a profit of $800 from that customer over their lifetime.

Why is CLV Important?

Customer Lifetime Value is essential for several reasons:

  • Resource allocation: By understanding the CLV, businesses can allocate their resources more effectively, focusing on high-value customers and reducing spending on low-value customers.
  • Customer segmentation: CLV helps businesses identify their most valuable customers and tailor their marketing efforts to target those customers specifically.
  • Customer retention: Knowing the CLV can help businesses develop strategies to retain their most valuable customers, increasing overall profitability.
  • Customer acquisition: Understanding the CLV can help businesses determine how much they should spend on acquiring new customers, ensuring that they do not overspend and negatively impact profitability.
  • Product development: CLV can inform businesses about which products or services are most valuable to their customers, helping them prioritize their product development efforts.

How to Calculate Customer Lifetime Value

There are several methods to calculate CLV, but the most common approach involves the following steps:

  1. Calculate the average purchase value: Divide the total revenue generated by a customer segment by the number of purchases made by that segment during a specific period.
  2. Calculate the average purchase frequency: Divide the total number of purchases made by a customer segment by the number of unique customers in that segment during a specific period.
  3. Calculate the customer value: Multiply the average purchase value by the average purchase frequency to determine the customer value.
  4. Calculate the average customer lifespan: Determine the average length of time a customer remains with the company before churning (i.e., ceasing to make purchases).
  5. Calculate the Customer Lifetime Value: Multiply the customer value by the average customer lifespan to determine the CLV.

Keep in mind that CLV calculations can vary depending on the industry, business model, and customer segment. It is essential to use accurate and up-to-date data when calculating CLV to ensure the most reliable results.


Customer Lifetime Value is a critical metric for businesses to understand their customers' behavior and make informed decisions about marketing, product development, and resource allocation. By calculating and monitoring CLV, companies can optimize their strategies to maximize profitability and ensure long-term success.