As was the case with other financial services organisations, the GFC posed an enormous challenge to GE Capital’s consumer business in Australia.
Central to this challenge was the fact that the consumer mindset in relation to finance, credit and debt had experienced a seismic shift. While the behavioural and commercial implications of these attitudinal changes were readily observable by GE, the underlying attitudinal forces at play were less clear.
In order to chart a course for success in the post-GFC market of consumer finance, GE Capital articulated the need to develop an up-to-date ‘state of the nation’ read on key drivers of financial behaviour. At the heart of this was to live a segmentation that classified Australian consumers into a series of mutually exclusive segments. These segments were to vary on the basis of core attitudinal and needs-related drivers of financial behaviour.
Ambitiously, this segmentation was to drive strategy development, fine-tune the customer value propositions of 10 separate branded products, and drive uplift in marketing and sales effectiveness by virtue of needs-aligned campaign development and execution. To enable this, the segmentation was to reside on the various CRM databases used by GE. More broadly, the segmentation was to be the foundation and catalyst for cultural transformation within the business, toward greater customer-centricity.
The research itself involved a phase of exploratory qualitative research as a precursor to quantitative, run by our colleagues at the Lab. This involved samples of both the market-at-large and also GE Capital’s customer database (at each product level). Each sample was needed so that the segmentation could be market representative, yet able to be appended to the customer database via a modelling process.
Arriving at the final segmentation solution was an iterative process that took several weeks, involving close engagement with the GE Capital insights team, senior marketers, and CRM leaders. The challenge in this process pivoted on retaining the marketing richness of the segmentation delivered by virtue of its focus on consumer attitudes and needs, while also enabling it to be appended to the CRM database with a satisfactory level of predictive accuracy. This balancing act meant that over 400 iterations of the segmentation were reviewed before arriving at the final solution, which was collectively deemed as delivering the greatest value to the business in the most parsimonious fashion possible. This process was successfully achieved by the close engagement between Nature and GE’s CRM team, which resulted in Nature having access to the CRM database, to help drive strong attribution.
The study resulted in measurable uplift in a number key performance and operational metrics, and significant cultural transformation. It demonstrates the overwhelming success of a study that has delivered on and indeed exceeded the client’s expectations in relation to these matters. It also demonstrates that when founded on a high level of business and stakeholder engagement, complex quantitative research and analytics designed with business goals at the fore has the potential to raise the profile of the research profession, and the consumer, to the highest levels of large businesses.