A New Approach to Customer Segmentation Using Location Data


We answer the question: How do I get my products or services in front of the right people at the right time?

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A New Approach to Customer Segmentation Using Location Data

Sales and marketing directors all ask the same question: "How do I get my products or services in front of the right people at the right time?"

The key to any go-to-market strategy that answers this question is customer segmentation (also called market segmentation) the process of dividing a client base into groups of potential customers that share similar characteristics and needs.

Traditionally customer segmentation has faced three main challenges:

  • Segments were based entirely on a company’s internal sales data which was inconsistent incomplete or even incorrect.
  • Segmentation required a large investment in third-party data to create customer profiles a process that was prohibitive for both sales and marketing departments.
  • The third-party data was often based on small samples created in surveys or panels which generated insights on what people say they do not what they actually do.

The foundation of a data-driven go-to-market strategy is literally data. More specifically sales and marketing directors need data related to (1) potential client base (2) location of potential client base and (3) available resources to allocate to the location of potential client base.

These are all challenges Location Intelligence solves. By enriching existing sales territories or more general geographic areas with publicly accessible demographic geographic and behavioral data any industry can effectively identify and optimize their customer segments.

Let me show you a few examples.

Customer Segmentation for Retail

A recent survey found that 60 percent of retailers have difficulty boosting sales and promotional offers by leveraging geographic and socio-economic demographic data. Geographic and demographic data happen to rank among the most popular types for retailers segmenting a potential client base.

In the visualization below we see the city of Chicago Illinois with two layers of data (from our Data Observatory):

  • first we pulled in a layer of census tract data to set spatial boundaries;
  • second we enriched those boundaries with multiple demographic measures about Chicago residents such as age gender race and annual income.

This map above is a good starting point. You can adjust the widgets on the right to explore the different measures used to enrich the census tracts and the default view shows an auto-styled histogram of income levels.

However retailers need a more granular view.

To dive a little deeper with the click of a button we applied the Spielman and Singleton algorithm a popular clustering procedure for generating customer profiles often paired with open U. S. Census data.

While we could populate up to 55 different clusters we decided 10 clusters would be sufficient for this market segmentation. We applied a divergent color scheme to easily identify areas by average annual income from highest (red) to lowest (blue).

Retailers serving price-conscious customers might want to consider areas shaded yellow and orange:

  • Yellow: White and minority mix mixed multilingual mixed education and mixed Income
  • Orange: Renters within cities mixed income White and Hispanic Mix and Unmarried

This level of customer segmentation provide sales marketing and operations directors a better understanding of a territory’s context helping them answer the question: "How do I get my products or services in front of the right people at the right time?"

Customer Segmentation for Transportation

As urban migration continues to strain transit infrastructure and congest traffic highways urban developers and city planners are turning to location data for help.

Solving these transportation issues requires an understanding of commuting routes and commuter behaviors.

For example Transport For London developed the Transport Classification of Londoners by visualizing and analyzing location data. By understanding and clustering seven key variables like travel behavior use of mobile phones and income they came up with customer segments with nine different customer segments.

We created a visualization below of San Francisco California to show similar data. The map is built by importing layers of census tract data and shows behavioral segments using location data on mobility and commuting patterns. We also visualized this data with a sequential color scheme which was chosen to shade volume from light to heavy along a multi-hue palette.

Anyone working in transportation could easily create a similar visualization to better understand and categorize their customer segments.

This type of segmentation is especially useful for fleet routing and tracking a pain point few go-to-market territory management strategies adequately address. It can help build more accurate predictive models that can assist route optimization.

If an operations director is looking to reduce fuel costs and travel time for instance then one potential option would be to consider rerouting deliveries through areas where residents own fewer vehicles as it is likely to have less traffic congestion.

What are your segments?

A lot of ground has been covered in this post and I added links throughout on additional resources to specific topics covered in more depth.

Clearly customer segmentation is pivotal in commercial strategy across a wide range of sectors including many that we didn't even cover in this post (like healthcare). But sales and marketing leaders will continue to struggle if they don't include new location-driven data sources in their segmentation.

If you have any specific questions please feel free to schedule a call with one of our territory management specialists today!