How do we get there?
We ended the last section by stating: “Not all firms are equal in the minds of consumers, who will choose to do business with some companies rather than others. To consumers, market segmentation means: meet my needs—give me what I want.” In this section, we discuss how to answer this customer requirement. This is where the STP process comes in. It is a five step process: Segmentation consists of two steps: Establishing strategy and using segmentation methods. Targeting consists of two steps as well: evaluate segment attractiveness and selecting the target market, and Positioning consists of the final step, identifying and developing the positioning strategy.
Figure 5.2: Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning Process
Step 1 is to establish the strategy or objectives. Step 2 is to apply segmentation. Step 3 is to evaluate the attractiveness of segments. Step 4 is to select the target market. Step 5 is to identify and develop a positioning strategy. Courtesy of infofree.com
Step 1: Establish the Strategy or Objectives (Segmentation)
Market segmentation creates subsets of a market based on demographics, needs, priorities, common interests, and other psychographic or behavioral criteria used to better understand the target audience.1
Establishing the strategy or objectives is the way to ensure a clear path. The goal or purpose of the STP process needs to be clear to all involved before being undertaken. This ensures that the marketers stay focused and use resources – including time – efficiently and effectively. This is not a long step but it is an important one. Take the time to articulate the objectives so all decisions made will move the organization closer to its goals.
Step 2: Segmenting the Market (Segmentation)
Sellers can choose to pursue consumer markets, business-to-business (B2B) markets, or both. Consequently, one obvious way to begin the segmentation process is to segment markets into these two types of groups.
Different factors influence consumers to buy certain things. Many of the same factors can also be used to segment customers. A firm will often use multiple segmentation bases, or criteria to classify buyers, to get a fuller picture of its customers and create real value for them. Each variable adds a layer of information. Think of it as being similar to the way in which your professor builds up information on a PowerPoint slide to the point at which you are able to understand the material being presented.
There are all kinds of characteristics you can use to slice and dice a market. “Big-and-tall” stores cater to the segment of population that’s larger sized. What about people with wide or narrow feet, or people with medical conditions, or certain hobbies? In this section, we look primarily at the ways in which consumer markets can be segmented. Later in the chapter, we’ll look at the ways in which B2B markets can be segmented.
Types of Segmentation Bases – Consumers
Table 5.2.1 “Common Ways of Segmenting Buyers” shows some of the different types of buyer characteristics used to segment markets. Notice that the characteristics fall into one of four segmentation categories: behavioral, demographic, geographic, or psychographic. We’ll discuss each of these categories in a moment. For now, you can get a rough idea of what the categories consist of by looking at them in terms of how marketing professionals might answer the questions below. Remember, the goal is to find a way to group potential buyers
- Behavioral segmentation. What benefits do customers want, and how do they use our product?
- Demographic segmentation. How do the ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds of our customers affect what they buy?
- Geographic segmentation. Where are our customers located, and how can we reach them? What products do they buy based on their locations?
- Psychographic segmentation. What do our customers think about and value? How do they live their lives?
Table 5.2.1: Common Ways of Segmenting Buyers
Segmenting by Behavior
Behavioral segmentation divides people and organization into groups according to how they behave with or act toward products. Benefits segmentation—segmenting buyers by the benefits they want from products—is very common. Take toothpaste, for example. Which benefit is most important to you when you buy a toothpaste: The toothpaste’s price, ability to whiten your teeth, fight tooth decay, freshen your breath, or something else? Perhaps it’s a combination of two or more benefits. If marketing professionals know what those benefits are, they can then tailor different toothpaste offerings to you (and other people like you). For example, Colgate 2-in-1 Toothpaste & Mouthwash, Whitening Icy Blast is aimed at people who want the benefits of both fresher breath and whiter teeth.
A Vintage Colgate Commercial from the 1950s:
Watch the YouTube video to see a vintage Colgate toothpaste ad that describes the product’s various benefits to consumers. (Onscreen kissing was evidently too racy for the times.)
Another way in which businesses segment buyers is by their usage rates—that is, how often, if ever, they use certain products. Harrah’s, an entertainment and gaming company, gathers information about the people who gamble at its casinos. High rollers, or people who spend a lot of money, are considered “VIPs.” VIPs get special treatment, including a personal “host” who looks after their needs during their casino visits. Companies are interested in frequent users because they want to reach other people like them. They are also keenly interested in nonusers and how they can be persuaded to use products.
The way in which people use products is also be a basis for segmentation. Avon Skin So Soft was originally a beauty product, but after Avon discovered that some people were using it as a mosquito repellant, the company began marketing it for that purpose. Eventually, Avon created a separate product called Skin So Soft Bug Guard, which competes with repellents like Off! Similarly, Glad, the company that makes plastic wrap and bags, found out customers were using its Press’n Seal wrap in ways the company could never have imagined. The personnel in Glad’s marketing department subsequently launched a Web site called 1000uses.com that contains both the company’s and consumers’ use tips. Some of the ways in which people use the product are pretty unusual, as evidenced by the following comment posted on the site: “I have a hedgehog who likes to run on his wheel a lot. After quite a while of cleaning a gross wheel every morning, I got the tip to use ‘Press’n Seal wrap’ on his wheel, making clean up much easier! My hedgie can run all he wants, and I don’t have to think about the cleanup. Now we’re both GLAD!”
Although we doubt Glad will ever go to great lengths to segment the Press ’n Seal market by hedgehog owners, the firm has certainly gathered a lot of good consumer insight about the product and publicity from its 1000uses.com Web site. (Incidentally, one rainy day, the original author of this chapter made “rain boots” out of Press ’n Seal for her dog. But when she later tried to tear them off of the dog’s paws, he bit her. She is now thinking of trading him in for a hedgehog.)
Segmenting by Demographics
Segmenting buyers by personal characteristics such as age, income, ethnicity and nationality, education, occupation, religion, social class, and family size is called demographic segmentation. Demographics are commonly utilized to segment markets because demographic information is publicly available in databases around the world. You can obtain a great deal of demographic information on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website. Other government resources you can use include the U.S. Data and Statistics website and the CIA World Factbook website, which contains statistics about countries around the world. In addition to current statistics, the sites contain forecasts of demographic trends, such as whether some segments of the population are expected to grow or decline. Demographics can be very useful, especially for forecasting purposes, but if they are the only variable used, the impact on our strategy can be severely limited.
At this point in your life, you are probably more likely to buy a car than a funeral plot. Marketing professionals know this. That’s why they try to segment consumers by their ages. You’re probably familiar with some of the age groups most commonly segmented: Baby Boomers, Generation Y, Millennials, GenZ, etc.
Baby boomers are aging and the size of the group will eventually decline. By contrast, the members of GenZ have a lifetime of buying still ahead of them, which translates to a lot of potential customer lifetime value (CLV), the amount a customer will spend on a particular brand over his/her lifetime, for marketers if they can capture this group of buyers. However, a recent survey found that the latest recession had forced teens to change their spending habits and college plans and that roughly half of older Millennials reported they had no savings1.
So which group or groups should your firm target? Although it’s hard to be all things to all people, many companies try to broaden their customer bases by appealing to multiple generations so they don’t lose market share when demographics change.
Tweens might appear to be a very attractive market when you consider they will be buying products for years to come. But would you change your mind if you knew that baby boomers account for 50 percent of all consumer spending in the United States? Americans over sixty-five now control nearly three-quarters of the net worth of U.S. households; this group spends $200 billion a year on major “discretionary” (optional) purchases such as luxury cars, alcohol, vacations, and financial products.
Income is used as a segmentation variable because it indicates a group’s buying power and may partially reflect their education levels, occupation, and social classes. Higher education levels usually result in higher paying jobs and greater social status. The makers of upscale products such as Rolexes and Lamborghinis aim their products at high-income groups. However, a growing number of firms today are aiming their products at lower-income consumers. The fastest-growing product in the financial services sector is prepaid debit cards, most of which are being bought and used by people who don’t have bank accounts. Firms are finding that this group is a large, untapped pool of customers who tend to be more brand loyal than most. If you capture enough of them, you can earn a profit (von Hoffman, 2006). Based on the targeted market, businesses can determine the location and type of stores where they want to sell their products.
Sometimes income isn’t always indicative of who will buy your product. Companies are aware that many consumers want to be in higher income groups and behave like they are already part of them. Mercedes Benz’s cheaper line of “C” class vehicles is designed to appeal to these consumers.
Family Life Cycle
Family life cycle refers to the stages families go through over time and how it affects people’s buying behavior. For example, if you have no children, your demand for pediatric services (medical care for children) is likely to be slim to none, but if you have children, your demand might be very high because children frequently get sick. You may be part of the target market not only for pediatric services but also for a host of other products, such as diapers, daycare, children’s clothing, entertainment services, and educational products. A secondary segment of interested consumers might be grandparents who are likely to spend less on day-to-day childcare items but more on special-occasion gifts for children. Many markets are segmented based on the special events in people’s lives. Think about brides (and want-to-be brides) and all the products targeted at them, including Web sites and television shows such as Say Yes to the Dress, My Fair Wedding, Platinum Weddings, and Bridezillas.
Resorts also segment vacationers depending on where they are in their family life cycles. When you think of family vacations, you probably think of Disney resorts. Some vacation properties, such as Sandals, exclude children from some of their resorts. Perhaps they do so because some studies show that the market segment with greatest financial potential is married couples without children (Hill, et. al., 1990).
Keep in mind that although you might be able to isolate a segment in the marketplace, including one based on family life cycle, you can’t make assumptions about what the people in it will want. Just like people’s demographics change, so do their tastes. For example, over the past few decades U.S. families have been getting smaller. Households with a single occupant are more commonplace than ever, but until recently, that hasn’t stopped people from demanding bigger cars (and more of them) as well as larger houses, or what some people jokingly refer to as “McMansions.”
The trends toward larger cars and larger houses appear to be reversing. High energy costs, the credit crunch, and concern for the environment are leading people to demand smaller houses. To attract people such as these, D. R. Horton, the nation’s leading homebuilder, and other construction firms are now building smaller homes.
People’s ethnic backgrounds have a big impact on what they buy. If you’ve visited a grocery store that caters to a different ethnic group than your own, you were probably surprised to see the types of products sold there. It’s no secret that the United States is diverse. Hispanic Americans are the largest and the fastest-growing minority in the United States. Companies are going to great lengths to court this once overlooked group. In California, the health care provider Kaiser Permanente runs television ads letting members of this segment know that they can request Spanish-speaking physicians and that Spanish-speaking nurses, telephone operators, and translators are available at all of its clinics (Berkowitz, 2006). While Kaiser Permanente was one of the first companies to do this, it has become common place now.
Segmenting by Geography
Suppose your great new product or service idea involves opening a local store. Before you open the store, you will probably want to do some research to determine which geographical areas have the best potential. For instance, if your business is a high-end restaurant, should it be located near the local college or country club? If you sell ski equipment, you probably will want to locate your shop somewhere in the vicinity of a mountain range where there is skiing. You might see a snowboard shop in the same area but probably not a surfboard shop. By contrast, a surfboard shop is likely to be located along the coast, but you probably would not find a snowboard shop on the beach.
Geographic segmentation divides the market into areas based on location and explains why the checkout clerks at stores sometimes ask for your zip code. It’s also why businesses print codes on coupons that correspond to zip codes. When the coupons are redeemed, the store can find out where its customers are located—or not located. Geocoding is a process that takes data such as this and plots it on a map. Geocoding can help businesses see where prospective customers might be clustered and target them with various ad campaigns, including direct mail. One of the most popular geocoding software programs is PRIZM NE, which is produced by a company called Claritas. PRIZM NE uses zip codes and demographic information to classify the American population into segments. The idea behind PRIZM is that “you are where you live.” Combining both demographic and geographic information is referred to as geodemographics or neighborhood geography. The idea is that housing areas in different zip codes typically attract certain types of buyers with certain income levels. To see how geodemographics works, click here to access the Claritas’ Web site.
Type in your zip code, and you will see customer profiles of the types of buyers who live in your area. Table 5.4 “An Example of Geodemographic Segmentation for 76137 (Fort Worth, TX)” shows the profiles of buyers who can be found the zip code 76137—the “Brite Lites, Li’l City” bunch, and “Home Sweet Home” set. Click on the profiles on the Claritas site to see which one most resembles you.
Table 5.2.2: An Example of Geodemographic Segmentation for 76137 (Fort Worth, TX)
The tourism bureau for the state of Michigan was able to identify and target different customer profiles using PRIZM. Michigan’s biggest travel segment are Chicagoans in certain zip codes consisting of upper-middle-class households with children—or the “kids in cul-de-sacs” group, as Claritas puts it. The bureau was also able to identify segments significantly different from the Chicago segment, including blue-collar adults in the Cleveland area who vacation without their children. The organization then created significantly different marketing campaigns to appeal to each group.
City size and population density (the number of people per square mile) are also used for segmentation purposes. Have you ever noticed that in rural towns, McDonald’s restaurants are hard to find, but Dairy Queens (DQ) are usually easy to locate? McDonald’s generally won’t put a store in a town of fewer than five thousand people. However, this is prime turf for DQ — because it doesn’t have to compete with bigger franchises like McDonald’s.
Proximity marketing is an interesting new technology firms are using to segment and target buyers geographically within a few hundred feet of their businesses using wireless technology. In some areas, you can switch your mobile phone to a “discoverable mode” while you’re shopping and, if you want, get ads and deals from stores as you pass by them, which is often less expensive than hiring people to hand you a flier as you walk by3. This is frequently referred to as geofencing.
Segmenting by Psychographics
If your offering fulfills the needs of a specific demographic group, then the demographic can be an important basis for identifying groups of consumers interested in your product. What if your product crosses several market segments? For example, the group of potential consumers for cereal could be “almost” everyone although groups of people may have different needs with regard to their cereal. Some consumers might be interested in the fiber, some consumers (especially children) may be interested in the prize that comes in the box, other consumers may be interested in the added vitamins, and still other consumers may be interested in the type of grains. Associating these specific needs with consumers in a particular demographic group could be difficult. Marketing professionals want to know why consumers behave the way they do, what is of high priority to them, or how they rank the importance of specific buying criteria. Think about some of your friends who seem a lot like you. Have you ever gone to their homes and been shocked by their lifestyles and how vastly different they are from yours? Why are their families so much different from yours?
Psychographic segmentation can help fill in some of the blanks. Psychographic information is frequently gathered via extensive surveys that ask people about their activities, interests, opinion, attitudes, values, and lifestyles. One of the most well-known psychographic surveys is VALS (which originally stood for “Values, Attitudes, and Lifestyles”) and was developed by a company called SRI International in the late 1980s. SRI asked thousands of Americans the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with questions similar to the following: “My idea of fun at a national park would be to stay at an expensive lodge and dress up for dinner” and “I could stand to skin a dead animal” (Donnelly, 2002). Based on their responses to different questions, consumers were divided up into the following categories, each characterized by certain buying behaviors.
- Innovators. Innovators are successful, sophisticated, take-charge people with high self-esteem. Because they have such abundant resources, they exhibit all three primary motivations in varying degrees. They are change leaders and are the most receptive to new ideas and technologies. Innovators are very active consumers, and their purchases reflect cultivated tastes for upscale, niche products and services. Image is important to Innovators, not as evidence of status or power but as an expression of their taste, independence, and personality. Innovators are among the established and emerging leaders in business and government, yet they continue to seek challenges. Their lives are characterized by variety. Their possessions and recreation reflect a cultivated taste for the finer things in life.
- Thinkers. Thinkers are motivated by ideals. They are mature, satisfied, comfortable, and reflective people who value order, knowledge, and responsibility. They tend to be well educated and actively seek out information in the decision-making process. They are well informed about world and national events and are alert to opportunities to broaden their knowledge. Thinkers have a moderate respect for the status quo institutions of authority and social decorum but are open to consider new ideas. Although their incomes allow them many choices, Thinkers are conservative, practical consumers; they look for durability, functionality, and value in the products they buy.
- Achievers. Motivated by the desire for achievement, Achievers have goal-oriented lifestyles and a deep commitment to career and family. Their social lives reflect this focus and are structured around family, their place of worship, and work. Achievers live conventional lives, are politically conservative, and respect authority and the status quo. They value consensus, predictability, and stability over risk, intimacy, and self-discovery. With many wants and needs, Achievers are active in the consumer marketplace. Image is important to Achievers; they favor established, prestige products and services that demonstrate success to their peers. Because of their busy lives, they are often interested in a variety of timesaving devices.
- Experiencers. Experiencers are motivated by self-expression. As young, enthusiastic, and impulsive consumers, Experiencers quickly become enthusiastic about new possibilities but are equally quick to cool. They seek variety and excitement, savoring the new, the offbeat, and the risky. Their energy finds an outlet in exercise, sports, outdoor recreation, and social activities. Experiencers are avid consumers and spend a comparatively high proportion of their income on fashion, entertainment, and socializing. Their purchases reflect the emphasis they place on looking good and having “cool” stuff.
- Believers. Like Thinkers, Believers are motivated by ideals. They are conservative, conventional people with concrete beliefs based on traditional, established codes: family, religion, community, and the nation. Many Believers express moral codes that are deeply rooted and literally interpreted. They follow established routines, organized in large part around home, family, community, and social or religious organizations to which they belong. As consumers, Believers are predictable; they choose familiar products and established brands. They favor American products and are generally loyal customers.
- Strivers. Strivers are trendy and fun loving. Because they are motivated by achievement, Strivers are concerned about the opinions and approval of others. Money defines success for Strivers, who don’t have enough of it to meet their desires. They favor stylish products that emulate the purchases of people with greater material wealth. Many see themselves as having a job rather than a career, and a lack of skills and focus often prevents them from moving ahead. Strivers are active consumers because shopping is both a social activity and an opportunity to demonstrate to peers their ability to buy. As consumers, they are as impulsive as their financial circumstance will allow.
- Makers. Like Experiencers, Makers are motivated by self-expression. They express themselves and experience the world by working on it—building a house, raising children, fixing a car, or canning vegetables—and have enough skill and energy to carry out their projects successfully. Makers are practical people who have constructive skills and value self-sufficiency. They live within a traditional context of family, practical work, and physical recreation and have little interest in what lies outside that context. Makers are suspicious of new ideas and large institutions such as big business. They are respectful of government authority and organized labor but resentful of government intrusion on individual rights. They are unimpressed by material possessions other than those with a practical or functional purpose. Because they prefer value to luxury, they buy basic products.
- Survivors. Survivors live narrowly focused lives. With few resources with which to cope, they often believe that the world is changing too quickly. They are comfortable with the familiar and are primarily concerned with safety and security. Because they must focus on meeting needs rather than fulfilling desires, Survivors do not show a strong primary motivation. Survivors are cautious consumers. They represent a very modest market for most products and services. They are loyal to favorite brands, especially if they can purchase them at a discount4.
To find out which category you’re in, take a VALS survey by clicking here. VALS surveys have been adapted and used to study buying behavior in other countries, too. Note that both VALS and PRIZM group buyers are based on their values and lifestyles, but PRIZM also overlays the information with geographic data. As a result, you can gauge what the buying habits of people in certain zip codes are, which can be helpful if you are trying to figure out where to locate stores and retail outlets.
The segmenting techniques we’ve discussed so far in this section require gathering quantitative information and data. Quantitative information can be improved with qualitative information you gather by talking to your customers and getting to know them. (Recall that this is how Healthy Choice frozen dinners were created.) Consumer insight is what results when you use both types of information. You want to be able to answer the following questions:
- Am I looking at the consumers the way they see themselves?
- Am I looking at life from their point of view?
Segmentation in B2B Markets
B2B sellers, like B2C sellers, are exploring new ways to reach their target markets. Trade shows and direct mail campaigns are two traditional ways of reaching B2B markets. Now, however, firms are finding they can target their B2B customers more cost-effectively via e-mail campaigns, search-engine marketing, and “fan pages” on social networking sites. The power and the effectiveness of a well organized and coordinated sales force cannot be overemphasized as well. Companies are also creating blogs with cutting-edge content about new products and business trends of interest to their customers. For a fraction of the cost of attending a trade show to exhibit their products, B2B sellers are holding Webcasts and conducting online product demonstrations for potential customers.
B2B markets are mostly segmented using the following variables:
- Geography – vital for organizing sales efforts but not as vital if only digital efforts are employed
- Size – size can refer to potential sales revenue or number of employees. Different customized products and strategies may be appropriate for different size organizations
- Use of product – if a company buys your product, what are they going to do with it? Will they resell it? Will they use it as a component of something they produce? Do they use it to maintain their operations? Understanding how the product will be used allows better customization of the offering and the messaging.
- Type of organization – Are you selling to organizations that have a large number of regulations? Are you selling to organizations that deal with international clients regularly? Are you selling to large organizations that use centralized – or decentralized – decision making? Each of these, and more, are going to require customization of product, messaging and distribution.