Business Improvement District Best Practices Using Market Research

Angeline Martin




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Business Improvement District Best Practices, Market Research and Evaluation

Business Improvement District best practices include setting SMART objectives.  Key performance indicators then enable ongoing performance tracking to ensure the right strategies and tactics are being used to achieve objectives.

Business Improvement District best practices include the following key performance indicators (KPI):

  • BID visitor demographics compared to catchment population demographics
  • Dwell time
  • Group size
  • Shopper satisfaction

Throughout our years of surveying customers, analysing data and developing actionable insights for clients, we have discovered that retailers experience increasing levels of revenue as certain KPIs improve.

Business Improvement District best practices incorporate aspects for both short term and long term strategies.


Business Improvement District Best Practices: Demographics

Understanding your catchment population is vital to maximising the potential revenue from your catchment area. If you understand the needs of your primary customer groups within your catchment population, you will then be able to establish if your Business Improvement District (BID) is meeting the needs of your catchment area.

If your BID is not meeting the needs of your catchment area then monies that should be spent in shops and cafes in your BID are leaking to competing areas.

If a prospective customer must travel to a competing location to make a specific purchase because they cannot make that purchase in your BID, then it is likely that, out of convenience, they will also make other purchases at that competing location. This spend is spend that should be directed towards shops, cafes and restaurants in your BID.

Market research companies, such as CARD Group, that are highly experienced in the Business Improvement District and Town Centre Management sectors are able to provide crucial insights to enable you to better understand visitors to your BID. This deeper understanding of customers means that you can identify any gaps in your retail and facilities mix.

For example, your catchment population could contain a high level of affluent individuals.  However, your BID shopper profile may not reflect this proportion of affluent shoppers. You may need to attract high end shops to locate within your BID to appeal to these more affluent individuals and to entice them to your BID.

Specialist market research companies provide independent and accurate information to enable you to monitor your and improve upon your key performance indicators.  We can also assist you with maintaining Business Improvement District best practices with regard to monitoring and evaluation.

Business Improvement District Best Practices: Dwell Time

Dwell time can be lengthened by improving the retail mix as this provides the opportunity for shoppers to visit additional shops during their visits.

Our research has shown that the mores time a customer spends in your BID, the more likely they are to purchase.  Our research will show you how to improve your retail mix in order to make it more attractive to your more valuable customers and encourage them to spend more time in your BID.  You may need to improve factors such as parking, facilities for parents with children or cafes.  Each Business Improvement District is different as the population of each local catchment area is composed of different demographics.  These different demographic mixes all have different needs.

In the short term, analysing dwell time will also provide you with insights to assist you with making decisions regarding events and promotions. You will be able to promote the aspects that matter most to those customer groups that spend the most in your BID with the current retail mix.


Group Size

At CARD Group, we have found that as the size of a group visiting a BID increases, spend increases.

For example, if a woman shops by herself, she tends to spend less.  But if a woman shops with a partner or with her children, she will spend more during the visit as she is shopping for the group. It is important to note, this increased level spend mainly happens when there are appropriate facilities for partners and for children.


Shopper Satisfaction

Over many years of surveying customers, we have found that the higher the customer satisfaction rating, the higher the relative spend. The top three factors that are of most importance to customers are the choice of shops, good customer service and safety.



Many Business Improvement Districts and Town Centres use footfall as a key performance indicator.  Although a useful metric under certain circumstances, footfall counting in isolation cannot provide insight into customers.

Key performance indicators such as average spend per visit, grocery spend, non-grocery spend, amount spent in each shop, where else customers shop and any travel issues is vital to developing a deep understanding of customers.

If we incorporate these key performance indicators into our analysis, we are able to explain footfall peaks and troughs as well as any anomalies in footfall volumes.


Find out more about our Business Improvement District services online, or email to request a call back or a brochure.

For general information about Business Improvement Districts, please visit the government information and guidance web page.

About the author: Angeline Martin

As Marketing Manager, Angeline has more than 20 years of marketing management experience. She holds a BA (hons) Business Studies degree, specialising in marketing, from the University of Ulster. A Chartered Marketer, Angeline is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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