A Customer’s Carol: A journey through consumer targeting

In the 1980s geodemographic targeting was born. At this time, it was an exciting new phenomenon that brands across the country would flock to use. Since then, the major developments have been focused in the digital space and cross-channel advancements have been comparatively slow and unimpressive. The industry leaders, used by media companies and brands across the world, still use much the same techniques as they did in the ‘80s.

In the spirit of Christmas, let’s take a Scrooge-like journey through the evolution of customer targeting, to gain a better understanding of just how outdated companies can open up from siloed thinking to real dynamic, omnichannel targeting.

Ghost of targeting past

‘Back in the 1980’s, storage for 1 terabyte of data cost $1 million – now, it costs $30.’

In the 1950s, people were targeted based on what job they did; in the 1980s, it was all about where they lived; and in the 1990s, it became focused on what they were buying.

Now, the focus must be on what people love, in order to predict what they will buy. Starcount’s Chief Data Scientist, Clive Humby, is well placed to comment on the activity of the past.

As one of the minds behind CACI’s product Acorn back in the 1980s, he was jointly responsible for developing the consumer targeting revolution, allowing companies to target consumers based on where they lived.

In the 1990s, Edwina Dunn and himself went on to pioneer the idea of using customer transactional data to understand what customers were buying, resulting in the Tesco Clubcard. These techniques worked well at the time but there is now room to do more.

Back in the 1980’s, storage for 1 terabyte of data cost $1 million – now, it costs $30. The ability to hold and harness huge amounts of data presents enormous opportunities for the present day. The next step is developing a product that can use multiple data sets effectively.

Ghost of targeting present

‘GDPR has meant that the customer has taken control of the data, because they don’t want to be bombarded with messaging that means nothing to them.’

The present situation, despite the potential of near infinite data storage, is saturated with problems and inefficiencies. Currently, much of marketing and customer data is immensely siloed and the ‘Walled Garden’ targeting tools of companies like Facebook, have given a lack of transparency and uniformity to data use in the marketing ecosystem.

A resultant boom in digital and social advertising has arisen, but this is specific to online. Geodemographics is still the only option for cross-channel marketing. The idea of omnichannel marketing is still a myth: although many individual tools have advanced, they cannot work across other channels.

Further to this, GDPR legislation has meant that many of the routes for prospecting and lead generation are locked off to the industry and it is much harder to talk on a one-to-one basis with the customer. Clive Humby has stated ‘GDPR has meant that the customer has taken control of the data, because they don’t want to be bombarded with messaging that means nothing to them.’

What can be done about these issues? If brands can understand what really matters to people and engage with them in a way that works for them, they can increase ROI by at least 20%.

Ghost of targeting future

‘If we could go back to the development of the original geodemographic tools, how would we redesign consumer targeting?’

‘Delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time, with the right channel’. This should be the goal for any business hoping to stay relevant in the future. Achieving this relevance, particularly in the post GDPR world is immensely challenging, but also one of the most crucial aspects in any form of excellent customer targeting.

Brands who get this right can not only prevent losing customers but can guarantee gaining them too.

With this in mind, the question brands need to ask themselves is this: if we could go back to the development of the original geodemographic tools, how would we redesign consumer targeting? The problem to address is the fact that many brands are more concerned with demographics than they are with the actual purchasing behaviour, passions and motivations of the customer.

It is important, as a future strategy, to not only target using demographics but also on what really matters: people’s passions and motivations and mindsets. Demographics must now be combined with dynamic and flexible data sets, such as social data to provide a more complete picture that is updated in real time.

 The Christmas goose: Starcount Audiences

Starcount’s unique platform, Audiences, is a platform that identifies trending passions of actual customers and maps them across the UK. It can instantly create multiple consumer audiences to power omnichannel marketing and hyper-relevant customer engagement.

This will be a breakthrough stepping stone, bridging the gap seamlessly from the present to the future. Audiences allows brands to target across multiple channels with the same metrics, and uses data from over 53 million UK customers, maintaining a consistent stream of communication. For more information on Starcount Audiences click here.

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