Customer segmentation – LifeCycle Grids, CLV and CAC with R

We studied a very powerful approach for customer segmentation in the previous post, which is based on the customer’s lifecycle. We used two metrics: frequency and recency. It is also possible and very helpful to add monetary value to our segmentation. If you have customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV), you can easily add these data to the calculations.

We will create the same data sample as in the previous post, but with two added data frames:

  • cac, our expenses for each customer acquisition,
  • gr.margin, gross margin of each product.
click to expand R code

# loading libraries

# creating data sample
data <- data.frame(orderId=sample(c(1:1000), 5000, replace=TRUE),
product=sample(c('NULL','a','b','c'), 5000, replace=TRUE,
prob=c(0.15, 0.65, 0.3, 0.15)))
order <- data.frame(orderId=c(1:1000),
clientId=sample(c(1:300), 1000, replace=TRUE))
gender <- data.frame(clientId=c(1:300),
gender=sample(c('male', 'female'), 300, replace=TRUE, prob=c(0.40, 0.60)))
date <- data.frame(orderId=c(1:1000),
orderdate=sample((1:100), 1000, replace=TRUE))
orders <- merge(data, order, by='orderId')
orders <- merge(orders, gender, by='clientId')
orders <- merge(orders, date, by='orderId')
orders <- orders[orders$product!='NULL', ]
orders$orderdate <- as.Date(orders$orderdate, origin="2012-01-01")

# creating data frames with CAC and Gross margin
cac <- data.frame(clientId=unique(orders$clientId), cac=sample(c(10:15), 289, replace=TRUE))
gr.margin <- data.frame(product=c('a', 'b', 'c'), grossmarg=c(1, 2, 3))

rm(data, date, order, gender)

Next, we will calculate CLV to date (actual amount that we earned) using gross margin values and orders of the products. We will use the following code:

click to expand R code

# reporting date
today <- as.Date('2012-04-11', format='%Y-%m-%d')

# calculating customer lifetime value
orders <- merge(orders, gr.margin, by='product')

clv <- orders %>%
group_by(clientId) %>%
summarise(clv=sum(grossmarg)) %>%

# processing data
orders <- dcast(orders, orderId + clientId + gender + orderdate ~ product, value.var='product', fun.aggregate=length)

orders <- orders %>%
group_by(clientId) %>%
recency=as.numeric(today-orderdate)) %>%
filter(orderdate==max(orderdate)) %>%
filter(orderId==max(orderId)) %>%

orders.segm <- orders %>%
mutate(segm.freq=ifelse(between(frequency, 1, 1), '1',
ifelse(between(frequency, 2, 2), '2',
ifelse(between(frequency, 3, 3), '3',
ifelse(between(frequency, 4, 4), '4',
ifelse(between(frequency, 5, 5), '5', '>5')))))) %>%
mutate(segm.rec=ifelse(between(recency, 0, 6), '0-6 days',
ifelse(between(recency, 7, 13), '7-13 days',
ifelse(between(recency, 14, 19), '14-19 days',
ifelse(between(recency, 20, 45), '20-45 days',
ifelse(between(recency, 46, 80), '46-80 days', '>80 days')))))) %>%
# creating last cart feature
mutate(cart=paste(ifelse(a!=0, 'a', ''),
ifelse(b!=0, 'b', ''),
ifelse(c!=0, 'c', ''), sep='')) %>%

# defining order of boundaries
orders.segm$segm.freq <- factor(orders.segm$segm.freq, levels=c('>5', '5', '4', '3', '2', '1'))
orders.segm$segm.rec <- factor(orders.segm$segm.rec, levels=c('>80 days', '46-80 days', '20-45 days', '14-19 days', '7-13 days', '0-6 days'))

Note: if you prefer to use potential/expected/predicted CLV or total CLV (sum of CLV to date and potential CLV) you can adapt this code or find the example in the next post.

In addition, we need to merge orders.segm with the CAC and CLV data, and combine the data with the segments. We will calculate total CAC and CLV to date, as well as their average with the following code:

click to expand R code

orders.segm <- merge(orders.segm, cac, by='clientId')
orders.segm <- merge(orders.segm, clv, by='clientId')

lcg.clv <- orders.segm %>%
group_by(segm.rec, segm.freq) %>%
# calculating cumulative CAC and CLV
clv=sum(clv)) %>%
ungroup() %>%
# calculating CAC and CLV per client
mutate(cac1=round(cac/quantity, 2),
clv1=round(clv/quantity, 2))

lcg.clv <- melt(lcg.clv, id.vars=c('segm.rec', 'segm.freq', 'quantity'))

Ok, let’s plot two charts: the first one representing the totals and the second one representing the averages:

click to expand R code

ggplot(lcg.clv[lcg.clv$variable %in% c('clv', 'cac'), ], aes(x=variable, y=value, fill=variable)) +
theme_bw() +
theme(panel.grid = element_blank())+
geom_bar(stat='identity', alpha=0.6, aes(width=quantity/max(quantity))) +
geom_text(aes(y=value, label=value), size=4) +
facet_grid(segm.freq ~ segm.rec) +
ggtitle("LifeCycle Grids - CLV vs CAC (total)")
ggplot(lcg.clv[lcg.clv$variable %in% c('clv1', 'cac1'), ], aes(x=variable, y=value, fill=variable)) +
theme_bw() +
theme(panel.grid = element_blank())+
geom_bar(stat='identity', alpha=0.6, aes(width=quantity/max(quantity))) +
geom_text(aes(y=value, label=value), size=4) +
facet_grid(segm.freq ~ segm.rec) +
ggtitle("LifeCycle Grids - CLV vs CAC (average)")


You can find in the grids that the width of bars depends on the number of customers. I think these visualizations are very helpful. You can see the difference between CLV to date and CAC and make decisions about on paid campaigns or initiatives like:

  • does it make sense to spend extra money to reactivate some customers (e.g. those who are in the “1 order / >80 days“ cell or those who are in the “>5 orders / 20-45 days“ cell)?,
  • how much money is appropriate to spend?,
  • and so on.

Therefore, we have got a very interesting visualization. We can analyze and make decisions based on the three customer lifecycle metrics: recency, frequency and monetary value.

Thank you for reading this!

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  • Janis

    Thank you for the blog. Unfortunately I have difficulties to execute given code in th this post because function “between” is not recognized. Maybe some additional library needs to be loaded?

    • AnalyzeCore

      Janis, you should install the latest version of dplyr package.

    • Janis

      Thank you, problem solved. Only solution that worked was to install new version of R.

  • Sergey Polgul

    Sergey, it appears the code calculates CLV as a value extracted from customer in the past…
    Normally, CLV is referred to as the value we expect to get from the customer in the future.

    • AnalyzeCore

      Sergey, thank for the good point!
      For me, CLV is a value of customer for whole lifetime. Therefore, if we speak about some intermediate point of customer’s lifetime we can split CLV for two parts: CLV to date (actual sum that we earned) and potential value (predicted/expected/future CLV).
      Yes, I used CLV to date in this example and I agree that I need to clarify this. You will find both CLVs (to date and potential) in the next post that I’m going to publish.
      Thank you!

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