The Value of Customer Insights

It is an easy trap to fall into: frantically seeking out that next customer.  Any customer will do in fact so long as they meet daily budget or the occupancy target for that month.  

Right…..well not always!  How often do we stop and actually take a more strategic approach to our ‘next’ customer?   And further, are they the ‘right’ customer for your business?  

Taking a snap-shot of your current customer offers true nuggets of information that will help you reach them again (if you are a repeat purchase, experience based business) or give you an excellent profile of ‘like’ customers for you to reach who are the ‘right’ customers for your business.

This was the approach taken by Dr.V.Kumar when he consulted to the Georgia Aquarium in a case study recently profiled in the Harvard Business Review. (Marketing Boosting Demand in the Experience Economy  Jan – Feb 2015).

The Aquarium had got off to a great start with more than 3.5 million visitors in the first year.  Tickets were available by reservation only and waiting times stretched into six months or more…an enviable position.  But this didn’t last.   Customers had been to the museum, so why go back?  


So Dr. V. Kumar and his team set about to review the top zip codes of the Aquarium’s casual and season-pass holder visitors.  The associated demographic data was marketing ‘gold’.  It told the team exactly who the ‘right’ customer was but further gave them the tools to construct a profile of similar ‘like’ customers.    This provided the basis to devise a media strategy and plan to reach out to those customers.

Even armed with these valuable customer insights it was still a challenge to convince the Board to review their inclination to cut the marketing budget – often a very common response to declining patronage situations – but to maintain the existing spend (of $2million) and increase it to $2.7 million.

The Board agreed and some of the tactics they implemented were to move out of office display billboards from high vehicle traffic areas (where many ‘wrong’ random customer viewed them) onto highways with less traffic, but that traffic were more akin to the profile of the ‘right’ customer.   TV commercials were moved from broadcast networks to more niche channels with viewer ships that shared the same customer profile as the ‘right’ future customer.

The results proved the strategy and approach was right.  Attendance climbed by 10% with revenue up 12%.  All up the strategy and its clever implementation return 12 fold on its incremental investment.

The team at the Georgia Aquarium interrogated their customer information based on the most prolific zip codes of existing customers.  What data can you source on your customers?  If you interrogated it would it yield customer insights that would result in a major adjustment in your marketing strategy?  Could you drive the implementation to increase your customer numbers, knowing they are the ‘right’ customer for your business? In the long run it can be more effective to stop for a moment, review and revised your consumer marketing to achieve better outcomes.

All images courtesy Georgia Aquarium.