A major car-sharing company (car rentals by the hour) was having difficulty gaining new customers. They had a high-quality CRM database but wanted to perform a segmentation analysis to better understand how to be more precise with their communication. However, after working with a team of data scientists, the company realized they made a major assumption about their customer base.


Car sharing had been around for some time in Europe and the company sought to bring the concept to the U.S. They touted a sustainable solution that included fewer cars, less congestion, and less pollution. The goal was to create a company bigger than “all of us” and become ambassadors for change.

The company believed that their customers also held these noble values. They assumed their core customer was an environmentally-conscious liberally-minded college graduate whose primary motive for car-sharing is to reduce their carbon footprint, and all their marketing focused around environmental issues. This one customer persona limited their marketing reach and their ability to gain new customers.


The company had a healthy Facebook community and brand saturation on the social network. A team of data scientists used the Facebook API to extract the majority of their Facebook fans’ profiles and match it within their CRM. They also matched each customer’s actual car usage data.

The team then analyzed the Facebook data, performing a customer segmentation on the social data. While the company’s core segment was (in fact) liberally minded college graduates, there were 11 other segments the company didn’t know – new customer personas – including:

  • The poor, uneducated, inner-city single-mom who doesn’t own a car.
  • The single Millennial who lives on the East Coast, but is visiting someone very frequently on the West Coast and uses the car-share service to have access to a car in each city.

The results were clear and jarring: the environmentally-focused marketing message wasn’t speaking to the true product needs of a large portion of the company’s customers.


The irrefutable evidence encouraged the company to change their marketing strategy. As a result, the company created additional personas and segmentations from the data insights which allowed them to speak more individually to their customers and address their true product needs.