Ten Marketing Research Ideas To Help Grow Your Business


Idea #4 - Start "Psycho-Analyzing" your customer database.


An increasing number of companies are realizing the value of staying in touch with their customers and prospects through highly targeted marketing activities that utilize the principles of database marketing. Clearly, this upward trend has been intensified as more consumers can be reached electronically through the Internet. However, recent market research suggests that some of these major corporations may not be enjoying the full impact of their direct marketing efforts because too little is known about the "psychological" characteristics or mindsets of the customers in their databases.


Typically, a customer database is rich in information with respect to key demographics, usage patterns and lifestyle data. Yet, what is often lacking is information with respect to important psychological factors, such as consumer perceptions, beliefs, personal values, concerns and misconceptions. When these psychological factors are revealed, it is sometimes possible to make the database marketing effort even more targeted by directing different emotional messages that are tailored specifically for individual segments within the overall database of customers. An example of how a company's database can be "psycho-analyzed" to reveal important customer emotions and perceptions is illustrated in the following case study that involved a large financial institution:

        1. A major Midwest bank developed a direct marketing campaign intended to attract different demographic and lifestyle segments within what it defined as the Affluent Market.
        2. In the financial industry, the Affluent Market is normally defined as including consumers who have a personal "net worth" of at least $500,000 - excluding the value of their home.
        3. Of the six different demographic/lifestyle segments included in the bank's customer database was one labeled as the Affluent Retired Segment. As the label suggests, this segment included older, wealthy consumers who were no longer employed full-time. Since women tend to live longer than men, a majority of these customers were widows.
        4. When in-depth focus group interviews were conducted among the affluent widows, the results revealed two psychographic segments that were very different. As a way of highlighting these differences, the two segments were labeled as the Confused Widow Segment and the Take-Charge Widow Segment.
        5. As the label suggests, customers in the Confused Widow Segment were older, wealthy women who had inherited a large amount of money from their deceased husband and had little or no knowledge of how to properly manage these assets. Thus, for these women, the most effective direct marketing approach was one that could convey the following impression of personal reassurance: "You have nothing to worry about because our team of banking experts will handle all of your finances and assets so you can relax and enjoy your life." In short, these affluent widows were more interested in being reassured with a pleasant voice and a cup of coffee than complex financial explanations and strategies.
        6. The Take-Charge Widow Segment, in contrast, was just the opposite. Instead of being confused, these women were highly informed about financial matters and had every intention to "take charge" of their financial situation by not being afraid to ask the bank tough questions and expecting clear, definitive answers. It was clear that any marketing campaign directed at this segment would have to be significantly different in both tone and content than the one created for the Confused Widow Segment.


Whenever a customer database contains segments where the attitudes and perceptions are as different as the two psychographic types described above, the direct marketing efforts will probably be more effective if they can be kept separate and then "tailored" to each of the different mind sets rather than simply assuming that all customers in the database are psychologically the same.