Updating your existing target segments is a simple, cost-effective way to enrich your understanding of your audience. 

And when a total segmentation overhaul might not be the answer right now given the time pressures and tight budgets many businesses are experiencing, quick, effective solutions like this can help you stay agile.

In our last blog we explained why it’s important to refresh your segments following major shifts in consumer lifestyles, attitudes and commercial behavior we’ve seen in the last few months.

Here we explain the next stage in the journey: how to adapt and refine your segments using accurate, detailed and up-to-date consumer data. 

Quick recap: why keep your target segments agile?

An effective segmentation isn’t future proof – especially if your goal is to build a brand that meets today’s changeable consumer requirements and connects on a deeper level.

Listen to what they’re asking for, understand what they want from you, and align your strategy with their needs.

Here are the overarching benefits of an accurate segmentation:

Pinpoint targeting: Segmented audience data ultimately helps you group the attributes of people who might engage with your brand or product. That means better targeting, and less wasted spend.

Resonant messaging: With each target segment revealing different features, desires and values, you can tailor your messaging to reflect their needs.

Staying niche: Presenting ads to those who won’t engage has proven to have a negative impact on brand affinity. So it’s not just about finding the right people, it’s about avoiding the wrong ones.

Opportunities: With change comes new horizons, and with the state of play shifting faster than ever, it’s important to stay open to new opportunities, and effective segmentation might be the key to unlocking that competitive advantage.

Finding the ‘right’ data to enrich your segments.

Getting hold of the right data doesn’t have to be challenging, but to make accurate adjustments swiftly, there are a few factors to bear in mind. It should be:


When the point of your target segments is knowing who your audience is ‘now’ (not last year or the year before), you need a data set that is updated at regular intervals, so you can monitor shifts more closely, and mould your segments accordingly. 


With GWI, you can add a fresh overlay of new data points to your existing segments. For example, combining our latest COVID-19 research data with existing audiences segments in the platform. See an example of how this is done below.

You can also join multiple statements together, removing any unnecessary nuance around a certain topic. In this way it’s possible to use one statement to qualify another.


The data should be collected from a large enough sample, so you can be accurate even when you’re digging into niche audiences.

With a universe weighting you can achieve an accurate representation of the market size in the real world. Detail allows you to get niche, drive profitability and obtain market share at speed.

Simple to use

You want to have free reign over your data without unnecessary complexity, allowing for quick retrieval and analysis, so you can churn out insights when you need them most.

Psychographically insightful

Consumers are re-evaluating key areas of life, leading to changes in outlook, attitudes and perceptions.

Truly get an accurate picture of what’s changed, you need a dataset that offers insight into the consumer psyche. 

A testing ground for perfection

Discover and investigate patterns and links between different data points. With high quality data you can test, adjust and fine-tune.

The key themes to investigate.

It’s easiest to think of the types of information you should overlay in terms of themes, rather than specific questions at this stage. This gives your research more real-world relevance, makes it easier to conceptualize, and allows you to be more creative when combining questions.

Below are five themes that have gained importance in the wake of the outbreak. Some you will find present stronger patterns than expected, whilst others are less significant.

But when pivoting your strategy, knowing what has remained consistent can be just as valuable as knowing what’s changed.

  • COVID-specific questions: Perhaps the most obvious data points you may want to introduce to your target segments are those directly related to the outbreak. For example, broad psychographic questions, like ‘how concerned are you about the coronavirus?’, or more niche questions around specific perceptions, such as ‘what activities do you think you’ll carry on doing in the future?’ 
  • Sustainability: Sustainability is a category that has seen big shifts, both in public self-perceptions, and their expectations of companies. For example, when asked, ‘has the importance of reducing your carbon footprint / impact on the environment changed for you, because of coronavirus?’, 82% of consumers agreed it had to some degree.
  • Personal financial concern: With job insecurity and the threat of economic downturns comes financial concerns. For many brands, especially those in travel or luxury (to name a few), this could mean the drop in sales is set to continue. Ultimately, 73% of consumers expect coronavirus to have an impact on their personal finances to some degree. 
  • Technology: Consumers’ relationship with technology has accelerated over the last few months. This is especially true for older generations, which are showing increased fluency in many forms of online activity (communication, shopping and banking are just a couple of examples). 
  • Reorientation of priorities e.g. career/family/health: As we discussed in the last blog, attitudes towards risk have changed, and this means people are restructuring their priorities. Health, safety and security are rising up the list.

Refreshing your segments in four simple stages (with examples).

Here we guide you through the stages involved in enriching your target segments. In this guide we overlay behavioral and psychographic data points collected in our coronavirus research, building on the example in our previous blog

Aim: A U.S.-based direct-to-consumer grocery company is looking to refresh one of its core segments: mothers with children living at home. 

Why?: Specifically, the brand wants to validate the assumption that more mothers are cooking at home since the outbreak, uncovering key attributes to enrich their understanding of who this group is, and how to reach them.

How?: By refreshing their audience segments and revealing new truths about young mothers, the brand hopes to create an offering that meets the evolving needs of this market.

[Note: The below example is the tip of the iceberg. You can of course create highly niche, detailed audiences and overlay demographic or geographic data points as needed]. 

1: Build out your audience segment.

You’ll probably have an idea of who your target market is, so view our step-by-step guide to creating new target personas with GWI. There you’ll find out how to group statements until you get the perfect fit.

If you’ve already built your audience, we’d recommend reviewing the statements and updating to newer or more relevant ones where applicable.

Here’s how our ‘U.S. mothers’ audience looks so far:

creating an audience in GWI

2: Reveal psychographic data points.

Now you have your base audience, you can apply them to the thousands of data points in the platform. Using the chart builder function, delve into one of our data sets and pick a topic that you want answers to.

In this case, the grocery brand is looking to reveal what behaviors this audience predict they will continue doing after the outbreak.

adding attributes in GWI

They discover 51% of U.S. mothers with live-in children are cooking more at home, 17% more so than the average consumer.

It also reveals that when the outbreak is over, they’re 32% more likely than average to say they’ll continue doing so.

3: Add this data point to your base audience.

The grocery brand has validated its hunch that mothers are likely to continue to cook from home, they now want to add this self-perception to their base audience. 

This is done by returning to the audience builder and adding the attribute. The audience now looks like this:

refining target segments with gwi

Step 4: Research, test and refine.

The brand’s base audience can now be described as this: Mothers with children who plan on continuing to cook at home after the outbreak.

To create a successful ad campaign, the brand needs to get to grips with the behavioral and psychological patterns this group demonstrates. Only then will it have the details needed to create relevant, targeted products and content. Key areas of focus here are:

  • Personal interests.
  • Modes of brand discovery.
  • Modes of product research.
  • Purchase drivers.
  • Preferred brand interactions and qualities 

Don’t let your target segments gather dust.

Crafting detailed, realistic audiences from data you trust is a cornerstone of effective segmentation.

A modern segmentation needs to be agile and adaptable, with regular revisiting to retain its true value.

With a dataset that goes far beyond basic behaviors and provides a look into the consumer psyche, the hazy contexts that ultimately drive buying behaviors come into focus.

With the ability to research, refine, enrich and overlay as and when required, it’s possible to remain ahead of the curve, even when the future holds more unknowns. 

click to access our segmentation guide for marketers

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