How CBRE uses mobile micro-location data to better understand consumers

Commercial real estate company details how it's tapping a wealth of consumer digital and physical micro-location data at ADMA’s Data Day

CBRE is using the latest in big data to help retailers decide where they should be trading and communicating with customers.

CBRE head of retail analytics Australia, Matt Copus, discussed using digital and physical micro-location data at ADMA’s Data Day.

With mobile phones tracking us as we walk around, credit and debit cards being used to buy coffees, and consumers writing social reviews as they go, it's clear each of us is creating a digital data trail, he told attendees. CBRE is now using this to understand consumers and help its retailers make informed decisions around physical locations.

The commercial real estate company has a presence in 100 countries, with nearly 100,000 employees globally. Copus works with the CBRE retail teams to help customers find the right location to trade from, while working with landlords to help finetune their shopping centres to better appeal to consumers in their trade area.

“We use the ‘one customer’ approach. We have a range of digital assets that come together to form a view of what consumers are doing," he explained. "The data we gather includes where consumers come from, live, how they use the competition, how they use our locations, their needs, what they spend, where the spend it, household structure, all so we can answer whether a shopping centre is finely tuned enough to serve the particular trade area. We want to know what customers think of a location, and leverage pain points from a competitor to our advantage."

A range of data sets come into play, from population demographics, to expenditure forecasts, to credit and debit card data, which CBRE has been using for about five years.

"Data is much more available now - I can understand the age and gender of person, where they live within a region, what they are spending money on. For clients, I can tell them who passes through their shopping centre, and what they spend there, and what they spend elsewhere in a selected CBD," Copus continued. 

“We also use online reviews on Google, which get passed through sentiment analysis engines, via AI [artificial intelligence]. This just simply involves us plugging into a commoditised AI already existing on Google, Amazon and IBM. We touch on crowd sourcing as well, to better understand the customer journey, how they interact in shopping centres; we send people through and score their experience in real time. We are looking for anything possible to leverage the pain points of the competition, to ultimately boost the performance of our clients.”

CBRE has also been using mobile location data for a little more than a year now to complement an already big data strategy. To do this, the organisation partnered with a digital media data management company that provides the data in a raw format, which CBRE processes in-house.

"It provides in-depth micro-locational information on consumers around CBD locations. We have around 200 million GPS data signals coming in from mobile devices travelling in a CBD in any given year,” Copus explained.

“Data is accurate from 1-5 metres in regional areas, 5-10 metres in cities. Essentially, we can now understand what the consumer penetration is across a city block, almost up the minute.”

As a result, CBRE is able to see how consumers spread out across the CBD and where else they go on the same day.

"We know where they live within a certain margin of error, and of course this is all de-identified and privacy compliant. This provides us with unrivalled insight in the micro-movements of consumers around very complex urban environments," Copus said. 

“We can look at a shopping centre to show the broad reach these areas have and see where consumers live and travel from to get there. This is very powerful information on who is visiting these shopping centres. A retailer can look at this to target visitors from a competing centre, or to target out-of-home advertising, as well as opportunities to talk to shoppers directly, closing the loop."

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