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The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRUT) Sport and Fitness Service is working towards the Government Standard for Customer Service Excellence. One of the criteria is Customer Insight, which, among other things, focuses on “the importance of developing an in-depth understanding of your customers”.

We have not extensively used segmentation as a tool, but realised that it would help us particularly with the element within Customer Insight that states:

“We have an in-depth understanding of the characteristics of our current and potential customer groups based on recent and reliable information.”

We particularly want to look at how we might increase the membership at one of our sport and leisure facilities, so we used segmentation to ascertain some of the characteristics of our potential customers living in the catchment area.

We started by mapping other similar facilities in the area; both public and private to see how far people might be likely to travel and therefore how large the catchment area might be. Then, using the data relating to Sport England’s 19 sporting segments we examined the catchment area to determine which of the segments were most prevalent. Sport England have developed these segments to help us to understand people’s attitudes to sport and motivations for taking part (or not). The pen portraits of each of the segments indicate their propensity to participate, the sports/activities they enjoy, what motivates them to participate, reasons why they do not participate, what media they use, the brands they identify with and the most appropriate channels to use when considering marketing sport to them. This data can then be used to help identify what would be attractive to each of the segments and how it might be possible to persuade more of them to take part.

From analysis of available maps showing the distribution of the 19 segments, it could be seen that a one-mile catchment area around the facility is, in fact, representative of the make-up of the Borough as a whole. The 19 segments can be divided into three categories according to how they feature in the catchment area:

  • Category One – segments that each make up less than 5% of the population and therefore do not merit further consideration – there are 11 in this category
  • Category Two – segments that in some parts of the catchment area comprise up to 15% of the population and therefore merit some further consideration – there are five in this category
  • Category Three – the three segments that are most prevalent in the catchment area, two of which comprise up to 20% of the population in some parts and one of which comprises more than 20% of the population in some parts.

As a result of this analysis, and looking at the characteristics of the segments we came up with the following series of actions:

  • Focus on the three most prevalent segments when marketing the facilities and designing programmes to attract new members
  • Also give priority to the two additional segments that are likely to co-habit or house-share with these three most prevalent segments, given that they could be reached at the same time
  • To enhance the information on the catchment area, undertake an exercise to review the segment profiles of existing members of the facility, which will enable a comparison to be made between the people most likely to be members of the facility already and the catchment population
  • Using what is known about the characteristics of the segments from the available segmentation information, develop/package the offers in ways that are most likely to appeal to these individuals
  • Devise propositions that are most likely to persuade the segments to participate
  • Identify the marketing tactics that are most likely to be successful and then implement them

And Colin Sinclair, Head of Sport and Fitness for LBRUT was very pleased with the results of the exercise; “We wanted to start to use segmentation, not just because of working towards the Standard, but because we would like our marketing to be more sophisticated. The work has shown us the potential of segmentation and has given us the impetus to take it forward. And we are grateful to Coussins Associates for carrying out the work on our behalf.”

This segmentation project was carried out by Coussins Associates on behalf of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

This research builds on the results of Sport England’s Active People Survey, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Taking Part survey and the Mosaic tool from Experian.