REVIEWER: Steve August, director of customer analytics for Brookstone.

BACKGROUND: Brookstone is a nationwide specialty retailer, operating more than 248 stores and offering an assortment of unique and innovative consumer products that are functional in purpose and distinctive in quality and design. Brookstone also operates a direct marketing business that consists of three catalogs (The Brookstone Catalog, Hard-to-Find Tools and Gardeners Eden catalog) as well as an e-commerce Web site. Brookstone's annual corporate sales exceed $355 million.

PLATFORM: Windows 2000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: During the development of Brookstone's current marketing plan, we needed to know what specific types of customer clusters were the most profitable, thus deserving a stronger focus and higher marketing investment. Because we were already using customer modeling applications to a significant degree, we wanted to utilize the power of clustering and demographic data to help identify these customer groups. We turned to MapInfo TargetPro Cluster Analyzer and MapInfo's Media Mark Research, Inc. (MRI) and demographic data to gain a better understanding of where the most profitable Brookstone customers were located. We were already using various typical customer tools for data mining to break Brookstone's customers into specific segments. However, we had not used any mapping tools to create and understand these customer segments. As a provider of extensive direct mailing campaigns, including our well-known catalogs, Brookstone was accustomed to getting a certain kind of response to its outreach due to its tried and tested tools. However, we understood that we always need to look at ways of increasing the response rate in order to increase revenue. We implemented MapInfo's TargetPro solution to determine where certain Brookstone customers are geographically located to better serve their needs. Often, the customer's location has a tremendous effect on his or her response to specific items in the catalogs. Brookstone has had a market focus on more high-end, affluent consumers, but certain products sell better in certain regions. For example, a barbecue set is certain to sell better in the suburban environment than an urban one. This kind of geo-demographic segmentation was accomplished through MapInfo's mapping tools. From this kind of location identification of customers' buying activity, we can formulate a more targeted outreach and improve the level of response rate. With TargetPro Cluster Analyzer, we were able to confirm who our ideal customer is and determine the location of specific customer clusters fitting this description.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: TargetPro is extending its functionality, and we are using some of the cluster data in the modeling process. In addition, our team is looking forward to applying our acquired knowledge from MapInfo to other prospecting efforts.

STRENGTHS: One of TargetPro's greatest strengths is providing a unique way of slicing and segmenting Brookstone's customer data through the use of location. Mapping capabilities deliver a new and enhanced way of evaluating markets and customers. In addition, MapInfo's TargetPro Cluster Analyzer and MapInfo's MRI provide valuable demographic information which enables us to better understand the location and clustering of our most profitable customers and, in turn, better serve them.

WEAKNESSES: A weakness of MapInfo is a lack of significant data mining tools. Right now, MapInfo provides one set of analysis tools and creates the need for us to handle data mining first through separate solutions. We then have TargetPro pull that information and add it to the location-based reporting.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We needed a mapping technology equipped with clustering capabilities as well as demographic data to help define our customers. After looking at competing technology, we selected MapInfo for extensive functionality and reasonable cost.

DELIVERABLES: MapInfo's TargetPro delivers reports maps, databases, maps and spreadsheets on our customer base, their location and their purchasing choices. Through TargetPro, we are able to access our existing marketing customer databases as well as complete simple analysis. Also, the presentation of the geographical information is not only user friendly, but also provides the power to uncover new and valuable market segments to pursue.

VENDOR SUPPORT: MapInfo assists Brookstone through various support channels including telephone technical support and on-site training as well as some additional consulting services. We are also looking into attending MapInfo's online user groups.

DOCUMENTATION: TargetPro offers an extensible and easy-to-use documentation.

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