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Marketing Strategy: 7 Steps to Market Segmentation
Market segmentation is broadly defined as a complex process consisting of two main phases:
– identification of broad and large markets
– segmenting these markets to select the most suitable target markets and develop marketing mixes accordingly.
Everyone in the marketing world knows and talks about segmentation, but many don’t understand the mechanics behind it, so failure is just around the corner. What causes this? It has been documented that most marketers fail the segmentation test and start with a narrow mind and a bunch of misconceptions like “all teenagers are rebels”, “all elderly women buy the same cosmetic brands”, etc. There are many dimensions to consider and uncovering them is definitely an exercise in creativity.
The most widely used market segmentation model consists of seven stages, each designed to encourage the marketer to take a creative approach.
STEP 1: Identify a broad market and name it
By this point, you must have understood the broad market your business is targeting. If your business is already in the market, this can be a starting point; There are more options available for a new business, but resources are usually somewhat limited.
The biggest challenge is to find the right balance for your business: use your experience, knowledge and common sense to assess whether the market you just identified earlier is not too narrow or too broad for you.
STEP 2: Identify and profile the needs of potential customers
This step pushes the creativity challenge even further as it can be compared to brainstorming.
You need to figure out what needs the previously identified broad market consumers might have. The more possible needs you can think of, the better.
Stuck at this segmentation stage? Try to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers: why would they buy your product, what could trigger a purchase decision? Answering these questions will help you list the needs of most potential customers in a given product market.
STEP 3: Build narrower markets
McCarthy and Perreault suggest forming submarkets around what you would call your “typical customer,” then grouping similar people into that segment provided they can meet their needs with the same marketing mix.
Start the column with the dimensions of the main need you are trying to cover: this way you can more easily decide whether the person should be included in the first segment or a new segment should be formed. Also, create a list of people-related features, including demographics, for each niche market you’re forming—the next step will ask you to name them.
There is no exact formula for forming niche markets: use your best judgment and experience. Don’t avoid asking opinions even from non-marketing professionals, as different people can have different opinions and you can usually count on at least the things most people agree on.
STEP 4: Determine the defining dimensions
Carefully review the list obtained in the previous step. By now you should have a list of dimensions of needs for each market segment: try to identify the ones that have the determining power.
Reviewing the needs and attitudes of the people involved in each market segment will help you identify the defining dimensions.
STEP 5: Identify possible segment markets
You have identified the defining dimensions of your market segments, now review them one by one and give them an appropriate name.
A good way to name these markets is based on the most important defining dimension.
STEP 6: Assess the behavior of market segments
Once you have finished naming each market segment, take some time to think about what other aspects you know about them. It is important for a marketer to understand market behavior and what drives it. You may notice it though most segments have similar needs, they are still there different needs: Understanding and acting on the difference is the key to success through competitive bidding.
STEP 7: Estimate the size of each market segment
Each segment identified, named and studied in the previous steps should eventually be given an estimated size, even if it is only a rough estimate due to lack of data.
Market segment assessments come in handy later, providing support for sales forecasts and help with marketing mix planning: the more data we can gather at the moment, the easier future planning and strategy will be.
These were the steps for market segmentation, briefly introduced. If done correctly and thoroughly, you should now have an understanding of how to design marketing mixes for each market segment.
This 7-step market segmentation approach is very simple and practical and will work for most marketers. However, if you are interested in other methods and want to experiment, you should take a look at computer-based techniques such as clustering and positioning.
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