Customer Framework Development

A key component of any strategic marketing, branding, or innovation project is developing a customer segmentation framework to inform where to play opportunities. Customer framework development also helps structure the market to manage the customer experience on a segmented basis.

Think of it as the intersection of market segmentation, customer journey mapping, and customer experience. We use the term “customer framework” vs. “customer segmentation” to reflect a more robust, foundational set of deliverables

  • A customer framework is a way of looking at a product or service category by identifying distinct segments of customers whose motivations and behavior are fundamentally differ from each other

  • It flows from the perspective that all customers are not alike – and individual customer groups will seek out different brands and experiences for different reasons and for different need states

  • A customer framework is not just a piece of research – it informs how a company approaches its market(s) and structures brand and business development

The customer framework can either be hypothesized qualitatively or developed through a quantified segmentation study.

The diagram shows information obtained through framework development:

Segmentation Development

The framework itself consists of three interrelated elements— customer segments, potential needs, and strategic opportunity areas.

(For service-based brands, a fourth ‘customer experience’ element can be added, resulting in a customer experience management framework.)

Think about a customer framework as a strategic chessboard: Across the top, align customer groups your organization could potentially serve. Then, on the left, group market-based opportunities: What needs do customers have? What benefits are they seeking? What jobs need to be done? Any areas of unmet need represent unoccupied white space opportunities. Like a master chess player, this allows a company to strategically identify, plan for, and move into new demand spaces, making the competition irrelevant.


  • To successfully design and execute the customer segmentation and experience research, determine the optimal segmentation solution and prepare the comprehensive customer framework

Major Activities

  • Develop research design and survey, working closely with the client team. An online survey is typically recommended, as a proven, cost-effective method for segmentation research. Potential areas of study: attitudes/motivations, unmet needs, product usage and purchase behavior, competitive brand imagery, and demographics

  • Finalize, program and field questionnaire, including client approval
  • Finalize segmentation iterations, and hold work session to review and select a segment solution
  • Thoroughly analyze data and develop customer framework, including marketing target selection criteria and recommendations
  • Hold work session(s) to review segmentation analysis and confirm marketing target(s)

Key Deliverables

  • Agreed-upon research design and research instrument
  • Segmentation solutions and complete data tabs
  • Quantified segmentation framework, integrating attitudes and behaviors, key issues and implications, across the following: 1) Deep understanding of client brand imagery vs. competitors; 2) Functional benefits and brand personality; gap vs. ideal; and 3) A definition of portfolio management opportunities vs. a collection of brands and products designed to maximize incremental volume, minimize cannibalization
  • Potential need gaps and “white space” opportunities for future growth
  • Client-confirmed targets as an input to qualitative research (i.e., recruiting specs, etc.)
  • Identification of 4 – 5 high potential for positioning areas for key brand(s)

Key outputs of this step are used as an input into concept development and optimization.