It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who your best customers are: They’re the ones who shop most frequently and spend the most, of course. But who are most likely to be the best customers next month? Will it be the same loyal group as last month, or will up-and-comers emerge with a little prodding? Analytics experts say that many marketers need to spend more time nurturing their high-potential customers along with their high-performing ones. And thanks to the latest generation of demographics and geodemographics segmentation tools, finding those hot prospects is getting a whole lot easier, they suggest.

For example, to find prospects, you might take a file of inactive buyers, model them using transactional data from a cooperative database, then overlay lifestyle and life-stage household-level demographics data to identify clusters you might otherwise have overlooked. If life-stage data suggest that some of these names recently bought a home or had their first child, they would be good prospects for home furnishings or baby-oriented offers.

Indeed, knowing what life stage prospects are in and whether they are approaching a transition that may push them to make new purchases can be especially useful for direct marketers, says Tiffany Weatherly, segmentation and analytics product leader for Little Rock, AR-based Acxiom’s InfoBase database. Acxiom studies files for what it calls migration patterns—signs of lifestyle changes. For instance, having a child transitioning to the teenage years often brings new interest in cell phones and other electronics, Weatherly says. Life stage is also important, she suggests, in that many people’s shopping habits are determined in part by the cultural influences they’ve experienced. As a result, it’s likely a 65-year-old will relate differently to product offerings and marketing messages than a 30-year-old.

Catalog Age May 1 2004