Lena Roland, WARC’s Managing Editor, Knowledge, talks you through what to expect in the first issue of The WARC Guide, a monthly report which looks at some of the biggest and most pressing issues in the industry.

The WARC Guide to Segmentation looks at how segmentation is evolving, as brands utilise new data sources, and how marketers around the world are deploying machine learning to identify meaningful audiences.

Segmentation is used to identify the most valuable sub-groups of a brand’s existing and potential customers, based on their needs, wants and feelings. Powerful new data sources mean marketers are better able to understand consumers and prospects. Above and beyond traditional socio-economic and geo-demographic classification, segmentation today is about identifying meaningful and addressable audiences, based on understanding consumer tastes, passions and behaviours. 

WARC subscribers can read the report here. It offers guidance and advice in three main areas:

• How brands are fusing new data sources to make segmentation more powerful

• In-depth examples of successful segmentation

• New approaches to segmentation based on AI and machine learning

When segmentation works, it can create growth and opportunity, it can generate co-creation and NPD, drive strategic direction, boost ROI and much more. But, too often, segmentation studies remain dormant in organisations, never translated into action. Others fail to live up to expectations, often because of a lack of clarity about what it was supposed to achieve. In Why segmentations don’t always work, and how to fix it, Gill Edwards, head of segmentation and activation, Kantar outlines three reasons why segmentations do not always deliver and offers practical best practice advice on how to make them work.

Hybrid segmentation is a new approach that works across brand, comms, NPD and CRM. In Hybrid segmentation: delivering against brand and comms, innovation and CRM strategies, Paul Jackson, head of advanced analytics, Bonamy Finch, explains how this method drove ROI for a European travel company.

Data science pioneer, Edwina Dunn, CEO, Starcount, is no stranger to the challenges of finding the best data to fill the gaps in a customer database. Mapping passions with postcodes to identify lookalike audiences outlines a new approach that maps location data with consumers’ beliefs – evident through their social likes.

Ian Edwards, Facebook’s Northern European planning director, says the future lies with signal-based marketing. In From segments to signals: the rise of machine learning, he explains how machine learning could transform segmentation as we know it and unlock new phases of growth. Edwards explains more in this short video Q&A.

Traditional segmentation is challenging in China, a market of 1.4bn consumers. In China: towards a segment of one, Xavier Mussard, senior director, data and consulting, Artefact, APAC, explains how brands in China can combine personas, lifestage and path-to-purchase data with AI and machine learning to improve targeting.

And in China’s new segmentation eco-system: moving from demographics to location and payment Bhasker Jaiswal, VP Kargodata, China, outlines the evolution of segmentation in China and provides six tips for brands in China.

The concept of targeting everybody is investigated by Lance Porigow, CMO, The Shipyard. Reverse segmentation flips the idea of segmentation on its head and targets all prospective consumers. No consumer left behind: targeting all prospects with reverse segmentation shows how bucking the trend of increased fractionalisation can reap rewards.

Segmentation has traditionally played a role in media activation but Jean-Paul Edwards, chief product officer, OMD points out that segmented audiences do not always easily translate into buying audiences. In Living Personas: consumer segmentation designed for media activation he explains how personas are built around data sets that are not centered around identities, but around the concepts that people are engaging with.

Today, classification and identification governed by data privacy legislation. In Consent: the elephant in the room, Alan Mitchell, chairman, Mydex CIC, highlights how the challenge for modern marketers is to figure out how to build identity in a data-privacy compliant way.

IKEA’s “Wonderful Everyday” case study demonstrates how segmentation can create value for consumers. The Swedish furniture retailer involved technology, strategists and interior designers with an understanding of everyday home improvement problems to create design solutions. This fuelled an ongoing comms platform – six years and counting. Read how in Aaron Haynes, Vizeum strategy partner’s article, IKEA: how segmentation delivered over £800m in incremental revenue.

Finally, there’s an opportunity for US marketers to better understand multi-generational Hispanic consumers. Maria Twena, partner, global head of Consumer X, 9thWonder, explains how in Segmenting multi-generational families: Hispanic marketers need to move from 1:1 to 1:x. Marketers can make life easier for this cohort of young, bi-lingual Hispanics, who act as guides for their older family members.

The WARC Guide is a compilation of fresh new research and expert guidance, with WARC’s teams in New York, London, Singapore and Shanghai pulling in the best new thinking globally. It also showcases the best on WARC including case studies, best practice and data sourced from across the platform.