Many companies and organisations will have a segmentation model – based on either their customer base or the market as a whole. Segmentation is about understanding the diverse attitudes, behaviours and needs of consumers, and tailoring products, services and communications accordingly – on the premise that one solution will not meet the needs of all.
Segmentations can form the bedrock of customer retention and acquisition strategies – much more than just a marketing tool, they can deliver measurable competitive advantage if used fully and correctly.
In this blog, James Oliver raises some of the questions that clients should consider before embarking on a segmentation study.
1. Get the business behind it. Will everyone be happy to embrace it? A segmentation has to be actionable – and not just informative.
2. Get the business leaders behind it. Buy in from the top is also critical. Involve key people from across the organisation in the planning process. Important with all research but vital for segmentation.
3. Market or customer segmentation? Understanding the difference is key – the decision should be driven by business strategy and targets. If the focus is on understanding customers then a customer segmentation may be the answer – if the goal is to exploit new opportunities it may be that a market segmentation is required.
4. Keep the end goal in mind. This ensures the survey design retains focus and avoids interview durations of 30mins plus.
5. Ask the right questions. If the research seeks to segment a population based on attitudes and motivations then make sure that the attitudinal questions have a wide enough scope to be able to draw out meaningful and relevant differences.
6. Ensure there is sufficient classification data for profiling. Will colleagues and partner agencies need data on media preferences and consumption, shopping behaviour, etc.?
7a. Demographic, needs-based, motivations-based or attitudinal? It is useful to discuss up front the types of factors through which segments could be derived – and exploring the options for all.
7b. But once you’ve chosen, stick with it. When conducting needs based or motivation-based segmentations, it is tempting to bring them to life by describing them demographically (their age, lifestage, gender or income). Even if there are statistically significant differences, if a segment has been DERIVED by motivation them DESCRIBE it by its motivation.
8. Clearly define the sample parameters. For example, for a market segmentation, how do you define whether someone is ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the market? Equally, ensure there are robust sub-quotas so that it is representative (or can be weighted to become representative) of the target population.
9. Pick the right methodology. Online interviews, telephone, face to face, or something else? Think about how the context of the survey might impact on answers.
10. Embedding strategy. Before starting, think about how the insights are going to be delivered. Get colleagues involved from the off in helping decide how it should be disseminated – for example, are film summaries needed, or are workshops more appropriate? Set in place plans for ensuring other surveys you undertake can incorporate ‘golden questions’ so you can allocate respondents to segments, and plan for matching segments back to the database if you have one.
James Oliver is a senior research executive at Ci Research, and has managed segmentation projects for clients across multiple sectors – including leisure and tourism, hospitality, gaming and healthcare.
If you have any tips for planning a segmentation then feel free to comment below. Or get in touch with James on +44(0)1625 628076 or email firstname.lastname@example.org