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Marketing Strategy: 7 Steps to Market Segmentation
Market segmentation is broadly defined as a complex process consisting of two main steps:
– Identification of broad, large markets
– Segmentation of these markets to select the most appropriate target markets and develop marketing mixes accordingly.
Everyone within the marketing world knows and talks about segmentation but many don’t really understand the underlying mechanics of it, thus failure is just around the corner. What is the reason for this? It has been documented that most marketers fail the segmentation test and start with a bunch of narrow minded and misconceptions like “all teenagers are rebels”, “all older women buy the same cosmetics brands” and so on. There are many dimensions to consider, and uncovering them is definitely an exercise in creativity.
The most widely employed model of market segmentation consists of 7 steps, each of which is designed to encourage the marketer to come up with a creative approach.
Step 1: Identify and name the broad market
You have by this point figured out which broad market your business is aimed at. If your company is already in the market, this can be a starting point; Additional options are available for new businesses but resources will generally be somewhat limited.
The biggest challenge is finding the right balance for your business: use your experience, knowledge and common sense to gauge whether the market you’ve already identified is not too narrow or too broad for you.
Step 2: Identify and list the needs of potential customers
This step pushes the creativity challenge even further, as it can be compared to a brainstorming session.
You have discovered what the consumers of the previously identified broad market need. The more potential needs you can meet, the better.
Stuck in this stage of separation yourself? Try to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers: why would they buy your product, what could possibly trigger a purchase decision? Answering these questions can help you list the many needs of potential customers in a given product market.
Step 3: Create narrow markets
McCarthy and Perreault suggest creating submarkets around what you call your “typical customer,” then grouping similar people into this segment in terms of being able to meet their needs using a similar marketing mix.
Start building a column with the dimensions of the key needs you are trying to cover: this will make it easier for you to decide whether a given person should be included in the first section or if you should create a new section. Also make a list of person-related features, including demographics, for each narrow market you create – the next step will ask you to name them.
There is no perfect formula for how to narrow markets: use your best judgment and experience. Don’t even ask for opinions from non-marketing professionals, because different people may have different opinions and you can usually at least count on items that most people agree on.
Step 4: Identify the determining dimensions
Carefully review the list of results from the previous step. By now you should have a list of essential dimensions for each market segment: try to identify those that carry the determining power.
A review of the needs and attitudes you include in each market segment can help you discover the defining dimensions.
Step 5: Name the potential segment markets
Now that you have identified the defining dimensions of your market segments, now review them one by one and name them appropriately.
A better way to name these markets is to rely on the most important determining dimension.
Step 6: Evaluate the behavior of market segments
Once you’ve named each market segment, take time to consider other aspects you know about them. It is important for a marketer to understand market behavior and what triggers it. You may notice that, while there are many sections the same Needs, they still are difference Requirements: Understanding and acting on differentiation is key to achieving success using competitive offerings.
Step 7: Estimate the size of each market segment
Each segment identified, named and studied in the previous steps should eventually be given an approximate shape, even if, for lack of data, it is only a rough estimate.
Estimates of market segments will come in handy later, by offering support for sales forecasts and helping to plan the marketing mix: the more data we can collect in the moment, the easier further planning and strategy will be.
These were the steps to segment a market, briefly presented. If done correctly and properly, you should now be able to get a glimpse of how to build marketing mixes for each market segment.
This 7 step approach to market segmentation is very simple and practical and works for most marketers. However, if you are curious about and want to experiment with other methods, you should take a look at computer-aided techniques, such as clustering and positioning.
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