In a Business Combinations, these are intangible assets and are therefore recognised separately from goodwill, provided that their fair values can be measured reliably. These marketing-related intangible assets meet the definition of an intangible asset because they arise from contractual or other legal rights.
If an entity establishes relationships with its customers through contracts, those customer relationships arise from contractual rights. Therefore, customer contracts and the related customer relationships acquired in a business combination meet the contractual-legal criterion for identification as intangible assets. This will be the case even if confidentiality or other contractual terms prohibit the sale or transfer of a contract separately from the acquired entity or business.
Customer relationships also meet the contractual-legal criterion for identification as intangible assets when an entity has a practice of establishing contracts with its customers, regardless of whether a contract exists at the date of acquisition.
Customer relationships form a key intangible asset for firms operating in many industries. Firms devote significant human and financial resources in developing, maintaining and upgrading customer relationships. In some instances, supply or customer contracts give rise to identifiable intangible assets. More broadly, however, customer related intangible assets consist of the information gleaned from repeat transactions, with or without underlying contracts. Firms can and do lease, sell, buy or otherwise trade such information, which are generally organized as customer lists. Customer contracts and the related customer relationships
Three key attributes are important in considering the value of customer-related intangible assets:
- The expectation of repeat patronage creates value for customer-related intangible assets. Contractual customer relationships formally codify the expectation of future transactions. Even in the absence of contracts, firms look to build on past interactions with customers to sell products and services in the future. Two aspects of repeat patronage are important in evaluating customer relationships. First, not all customer contact leads to an expectation of repeat patronage. The quality of interaction with walk-up retail customers, for instance, is generally considered inadequate to reliably lead to expectations of recurring business. Second, even in the presence of adequate information, not all expected repeat business may be attributable to customer-related intangible assets. Some firms operate in monopolistic or near-monopolistic industries where repeat patronage is directly attributable to a dearth of acceptable alternatives available to customers. In other cases, it may be more appropriate to attribute recurring business to the strength of the trade names or brands.
- Customer-related intangible assets create value over a finite period. Without efforts geared towards continual reinforcement, customer lists dwindle over time due to customer mortality, the ravages of competition, or the emergence of alternate products and services. The mechanics of present value mathematics further erode the economic benefits of sales to current customers in the distant future. Customer relationships are wasting assets whose economic value deteriorates with the passage of time.
- Customer-related intangible assets depend on the existence of other assets to provide value to the firm. Most assets, including fixed assets and intellectual property, are essential in creating products or providing services. The act of selling these products and services enable firms to develop relationships and collect information from customers. In turn, the value of these relationships depends on the firms’ ability to sell additional products and services in the future. Consequently, for firms to extract value from customer related assets, a number of other assets need to be in place. Customer contracts and the related customer relationships
As noted in the intangible assets-class Order or production backlog, an order or a production backlog arises from contracts such as purchase or sales orders, and is therefore also considered a contractual right. Consequently, if an entity has customer relationships with its customers through these types of contracts, the customer relationships also arise from contractual rights, and therefore meet the contractual-legal criterion for identification as intangible assets.