Segmenting Customers for Profit
Segmenting Customers for Profit

Segmenting Customers for Profit Process

Market segmentation is the process of dividing up the total market based on identifiable characteristics, which have common needs. You can also apply the concept of market segmentation to your customers. For example, you can segment your customers based on the cost to service, the size of the average sale or the number of transactions.
Though segmenting customers for profit or customer segmentation is a simple concept, it is not simple to implement in any meaningful way. The difficult part is identifying the various segments so that you can identify profitable customers versus those that can cost you time and money.

Customer Segmentation – Vertical or Horizontal

Customers may be segmented either horizontally or vertically.
Horizontal segmentation is where you divide customers by industry, geographic location or revenue size.
Vertical segmentation is where you might sell numerous services or products to just one particular type of customer.
For example, you might sell to customers in the construction industry numerous products, such as, steel, lumber and doors to that customer. Though segmenting customers based on market characteristics is useful, you might also segment your customers based on servicing characteristics (i.e.: size of order number of transactions or total sales volume).

Profitability Analysis By Customer

Once you have identified the various segments that apply to your customers you then perform a profitability analysis by customer. Take your annual sales by customer and break it out into various segments. Identify any patterns or relationships which might indicate opportunities for improvement. For example: a large number of small customers or concentration of large ones.

Customer Profitability Analysis

Next, perform a customer profitability analysis by subtracting your estimated relative cost to service from the revenue for the various segments. Estimating the cost to service may be done in general terms on a scale of one to five or in specific terms using activity-based costing. By relating your cost to service to your revenue streams, you can often identify “profit drains” that can be restructured. This restructuring might involve raising prices on select customers, implementing price discounts, sales incentives or firing customers.
If you want to learn how to price for profit, then download our Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide.
segmenting customers for profit
[box]Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra
Access your Strategic Pricing Model Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to set your prices to maximize profits.
Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?
Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs[/box]
segmenting customers for profit

Recommended reading: The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing, Fourth Edition, by Thomas T. Nagle and John E. Hogan
See Also:
Segment Margin
Activity Based Costing vs Traditional Costing
Implementing Activity Based Costing
Profitability Index Method
Net Profit Margin Analysis
Gross Profit Margin Ratio Analysis


Financial Ratios

See also: Quick Ratio Analysis Price to Book Value Analysis Price Earnings Growth Ratio Analysis Time Interest Earned Ratio Analysis Use of Financial Ratios Financial Ratios are used to measure financial performance against standards. Analysts compare financial ratios to industry averages (benchmarking), industry standards or rules of thumbs and against internal trends (trends analysis). The

Read More »

Margin vs Markup

See Also: Gross Profit Margin Analysis Retail Markup Chart of Accounts (COA) Margin Percentage Calculation Markup Percentage Calculation Margin vs Markup Differences Is there a difference between margin vs markup? Absolutely. More and more in today’s environment, these two terms are being used interchangeably to mean gross margin, but that misunderstanding may be the menace

Read More »

Markup Percentage Calculation

See Also: Margin vs Markup Margin Percentage Calculation Retail Markup Gross Profit Margin Ratio Analysis Operating Profit Margin Ratio Analysis Markup Percentage Definition Define the markup percentage as the increase on the cost price. The markup sales are expressed as a percentage increase as to try and ensure that a company can receive the proper

Read More »


Financial Leadership Workshop

MARCH 28TH-31ST 2022


Financial Leadership Workshop


June 12-15th, 2023

WIKI CFO® - Browse hundreds of articles