Life-Stage Marketing and CRM

Updated: April 30, 2009

Issue

If you have a CRM system, you probably use it to track sales and measure profitability. It's likely that you store customer data according to frequency, amount of purchases and credit limits as well. But are you making full use of CRM's capabilities?

An important dimension to a good CRM database design is tracking the demographics of customers and their needs at various times in their lives. Such a tool allows you to sort by customers' immediate necessities, age or economic status. Are they recent graduates, retirees or something in-between? Recognizing your customers' various life stages goes beyond knowing who's a regular and who's a seasonal shopper. It requires understanding the unique needs each life stage presents.

Analysis

Many enterprises only look at the here and now when trying to attract new customers. They focus on what their customers are buying today, without any thought of what customers might need in upcoming years. Life-stage planning will help you retain loyal customers and get new ones.

Being cognizant of life stages enables you to:

  • Guide the development of your product lines
  • Cost-effectively advertise to a particular group
  • Design meaningful promotions
  • Mature your product lines to follow your customers' needs

Develop New Customers and Products


There are several wants and needs unique to a customer's stage of life. For example, a person who has recently entered the work force might be interested in furnishing a first apartment, or buying business attire and a gym membership. If someone is newly married, he or she might be interested in a new home, vacation packages, spas or time-shares. After having children, the needs become baby furniture; an IRA and college fund; summer camp; and a mini-van. And savings, health care and relocation become important just before retirement.

Evolving your products to fit these life stages will encourage long-term loyalty and predictable profits. Clothing needs, for instance, may move to the more conservative or practical. Household goods may become more upscale. Vacations could change from romantic getaways to family outings. Whatever your product line is, there should be an evolution whose objective is keeping customers long-term.

The benefit of this approach is that you can plan product development according to predicted customer needs and trends. Your pipeline can be projected to several demographics. Life-planning marketing encourages your various departments to coordinate product and service profiles. Your marketing, finance, product-development and service-and-support teams can work with sales to attract and retain a solid customer base.

Life-stage planning offers the additional benefit of attracting former customers who have left due to lifestyle changes. Your service department will identify whether disappointment with a product area has been at fault, and feed that information to the product-development team. Advertising and promotions can also be directed to the demographic that you choose.

The Bottom Line

Life-stage planning is a cost-effective way to retain a customer base, attract new customers and ensure your enterprise stays relevant in the marketplace. Make sure that your company isn't left behind.

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