Lifestyle Segmentation & Personas

Mark Weber
August 21, 2023

Do you Know your Most Engaged, Profitable & “Ideal” Segments?

The missing key to successful digital transformation.

By Mark Weber, CEO & Chairman, Strum

As financial leaders scramble to develop a data analytics road map to drive their digital transformation efforts, there is one mission-critical step they often fail to prioritize early enough to accelerate the path to building a successful data analytics program. That step: intimately knowing the needs of consumers and their families, their life triggers and their priorities.

Armed with the knowledge of your most engaged, profitable and “ideal” customer lifestyle segments, you can then model those engaged users to build data-driven Personas, and also target your “ideal” new customer prospects for future growth with laser precision. That last step to improving user experiences with a Next-Gen Data Analytics and Personalization Program to allow one-to-one marketing is building the “Last Mile.” And as every leader ultimately discovers, it is by far the most challenging stage of Digital Transformation.

While financial institutions have focused their efforts on trying to find, select, build or purchase the ideal Data Warehouse, CRM, marketing automation or software app to build their digital road map around, many fail to recognize the ultimate success of this innovative digital road map is not about putting the technology, systems or data first.

“Who are your largest, fastest-growing, most-engaged, profitable and satisfied consumers? Market research alone cannot tell you. The answer can only come from deep data analytics.

Far from putting the systems first, it’s all about putting your members' or customers' lives, relationships and priorities first. That means every internal team data priority, strategic growth plan, digital transformation and growth planning effort must begin with a crystal-clear understanding of this: who are your largest, fastest-growing, most engaged, profitable and satisfied customers? Market research alone cannot begin to answer that question. It can only come from deep customer, product, market, competitive and prospect analytics. And void of that customer insight knowledge, organizations will ultimately struggle in their Digital Transformation efforts to develop rich, personalized, emotionally-connected content and value-added relationships that lead to trust and brand alignment.

The first step in any intelligent data analytics journey should be grounded in a data-driven Lifestyle Segmentation Growth Strategy. At Strum, our data analytics team has helped countless financial clients learn why this is the most vital foundational first step in building a data-driven, digital-focused road map. Armed with this vital strategy, leaders can then focus on applying those data insights into branch optimization strategies; future market and growth planning; prospect targeting; and customer relationship marketing that ultimately leads to rich one-to-one personalization insights, engagement and market share growth.

““Brand focus backed by data-based analytics and strategy begins to change your hiring practices and your entire culture. Our executive team today speaks about our brand and our Personas; they’ve never done that before. We’re totally focused and it’s exciting and refreshing. It has put everybody on the same page with a clear, consistent message.

— Marty Kelly, SVP/CMO Firefly Credit Union

A smart lifestyle segmentation process requires sophisticated capabilities for data scrubbing, normalizing and integrating core and disparate data, and ultimately geo-coding customer data to be effective. It requires a customized and tailored profitability data model to understand the relationship value of each different segment you have and each account and product you offer. It must also include deep market area and prospect analytics: not just looking at your own customer segment relationships for insights.

All this requires the building of a robust Data Analytics Warehouse. It requires the appending of multi-sources of core, disparate and unstructured data. It demands intelligent licensed 3rd party big data to ensure your data is enhanced with accurate income, gender, lifestyle, financial debt, investing, family status and media usage. With expert data analysts, lifestyle segmentation experts, brand strategists, growth planning analysts and real estate strategists, the Strum team links, mines and uncovers data that unlocks critical foundational answers to strategic growth questions and future market forecasting, like these:

Which segments have become the fastest-growing and most engaged relationships in the last three years that are shaping current growth trends?

  • What makes each segment unique demographically, psychographically, geographically?
  • Which are the most engaged overall users, including key product usage?
  • What factors make member or customer segments more, or less profitable?
  • What penetration levels have you generated among your most engaged and profitable segments (and how many more of each growth segment is there in each market)?
  • How different are the market segments you have captured from each other?
  • How have each key segment’s relationship engagement, balances and product usage evolved each year?
  • How can you pinpoint and target “ideal opportunity” prospect segments in key markets to accelerate profitable acquisition and growth?
  • Which branches are performing best on KPIs and acquiring your ideal growth segments historically, vs. the last three years?

No matter what digital transformation or technology platform decisions leaders make, knowing, defining and targeting your ideal customers and future growth target segment prospects with rich data, psychographic and lifestyle segmentation will be a requirement of advancing user experiences and intelligent one to one personalization.

Armed with a body of sophisticated customer relationship data patterns, including new customer and prospect growth market trends insights and profitability, an FI is in a much stronger position to strategize how to build its Next-Gen Targeting and Personalization strategy. Key data sets, like regional market financial market share data, product portfolio analytics, branch usage, profitability measures and future target lifestyle growth segments help drive new levels of decision making, future performance, next-gen onboarding processes, and organization-wide productivity.


Once your final lifestyle growth, retention and secondary segment targets and future prospects have been identified, the next step is to build a data-driven Persona Strategy. While segmentation data is vital for strategic targeting focus and market growth planning, it’s not enough to engage your entire staff to adapt by harnessing personalized lifestyle insights, emerging life issues and event triggers. These powerful insights help organizations engage consumers with relevant data and insights allowing you to deliver helpful content to improve their financial education and make better decisions to get ahead. This step is the bedrock of future one-to-one user personalization and tailored onboarding across your enterprise.

“Data-driven personas represent the marriage of data analytics insights and human empathy. They empower marketers to manage, track and build personalized content marketing and tailored user experiences.

Smart, data-led, journey mapping exercises for organizations preparing to design a personalization program must leverage data analytics, demographic and lifestyle insights, financial behaviors, product relationship and profit insights if they truly hope to know who their key customers are by life stage, need, product journey, life trigger and event.

Using rich data from psychographic lifestyle segmentation targets and core data, Strum builds data-driven Persona Maps with factual data that provides the entire organization a deeper understanding of a member's individual and family life and dynamic financial situation. This is amplified with deeper product relationship knowledge, product and transactional data, market insights, behavioral and predictive triggers and opportunities to build higher empathy. These Persona Maps then become the foundation for and engaging your entire staff in understanding, leveraging and to deliver relevant and personal information.

Data-driven Personas represent the marriage of data analytics insights and human empathy. They empower people to manage, track and build personalized content marketing and user experiences tailored to each person’s life events, pain points and unique needs. Personas help inform day-to-day internal decisions and improve interactions by bringing data analytics to life via innovative planning around new product design, savvy staff Persona training, and enhanced and simplified operational processes.

Armed with knowledge and insights about these personas (for both existing customers and future prospects) organizations can re-design simpler, smarter and more intuitive user experiences to improve relationship development and retention. It can also humanize their storytelling and content, and deliver tailored financial education to impact their lives, transform client relationships and build a higher level of engagement and trust.

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