The summer vacation travel season recently led me to New England for an opportunity to unwind in the Green Mountain State. That of course is Vermont. And what do you suppose is one of Vermont’s most popular tourist attractions? That of course is the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury. Judging by the assortment of people I observed touring the factory, including dreamy-eyed newlywed couples, families with over-stimulated kids, hipster college students, and retirees living the good life, it seems that just about everybody loves ice cream. The statistics certainly prove this out. According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service of the USDA, about 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts were produced in the U.S. in 2011. That’s the equivalent of over 13 gallons of ice cream consumed per U.S. household.
During the tour I sampled some scrumptious flavors including Boston Cream Pie, Chubby Hubby and Karamel Sutra. With so many choices, why settle on plain old-fashioned vanilla? Believe me, I didn’t!
Extending this example into the marketing world, we see that “vanilla” is what many marketers are settling for when it comes to making use of marketing data. They’ll use plain vanilla data points, like simple age and income definitions, to describe, segment and target their customers. That doesn’t really work very well especially when today’s consumers are so hard to reach and are as fragmented and multi-dimensional as the variety of ice cream scoops that are available from Ben & Jerry’s.
Think of the characteristics of your customers as both a diverse blend of flavors and a target audience with uniquely different tastes. What can you do to decipher the combination of characteristics that optimally differentiate your customers from the overall population? In other words, how do you tell an empty-nester “Cherry Garcia” type of customer apart from a single, urban-dwelling “Bohemian Raspberry” style of customer? A good place to start is by expanding the variety of data elements that are appended to your customer database. With rich and creamy data you can conduct a deeper analysis that churns out the most significant and tasty insights.
Experian Marketing Services offers hundreds of varieties of data elements that can be used for customer analysis and precision targeting. The possibilities go well beyond standard gender, age and income classifications. Try becoming more adventurous by utilizing such premium elements as Discretionary Spend Estimates (DSE), Premiere Summarized Credit Statistics, Financial Personalities®, SpendSense® spend-based segmentation, or lifestyle segments derived from Mosaic® USA. Many of these elements incorporate transactional and behavioral data attributes. By the way, analysis of data from Experian Simmons shows Mosaic USA segments that are among the heaviest consumers of ice cream (five or more quarts in the past 30 days) include Family Troopers, Settled in Suburbia and Cul-de-Sac Diversity.
The ice cream industry experts say it takes an average of 50 licks to polish off a single-scoop ice cream cone. Let’s say that a “lick” is the equivalent of extracting a single demographic or lifestyle characteristic from your customer database. Then how many licks of the data are available to you for polishing off the clearest view of your key customers?
Bill Schneider, senior director of Solutions Support and Analytical Consulting services at Experian Marketing Services, challenges marketers to take an “outside-in” approach to understanding their customer’s spending behavior to improve marketing acquisition strategies. Schneider has over 25 years of experience in the database and direct marketing industries. He has worked with clients from various industries including retail, financial services, sports and recreation, telecommunications, hospitality, and non-profit organizations.