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Market Segmentation

Market Segmentation

To be useful, segments must be measurable, substantial, accessible, differentiable, and accountable.

- Philip Kotler

Market segmentation divides the market into different subgroups. A market segment consists of a group of customers who have similar needs and wants. It is the marketer's goal to identify the appropriate subgroups of consumers. Market segmentation is essential to marketing strategy. Let's consider why that is.

The Purpose of Market Segmentation

To understand the purpose of market segmentation, let's first take a look at its definition.

Market segmentation is the process of dividing a market into groups of consumers that share similar characteristics and attributes.

The market is defined by the group of people who would potentially be interested in your products or services. They are people with wants, needs, and the ability and willingness to buy products and services.

The rule of thumb in segmentation is that the difference within groups (segments) should be low (e.g., consumers in a group should share similar characteristics), and the difference between groups should be high.

It is possible to segment consumer markets based on descriptive characteristics like demographics or geographic location. Another type of segmentation involves looking at a consumer group's different types of behavior. On the other hand, marketers might use micro and macro segmentation to segment business markets. This explanation will focus on segmenting consumer markets.

To learn more about segmentation in business-to-business (B2B) environments, check out our explanation of business markets.

Target Market Segmentation

Figure 1 below shows the four different types of target market segmentation.

Market Segmentation Types of market segmentation StudySmarterFig. 1 - Types of Market Segmentation

Demographic Market Segmentation

One of the most popular types of market segmentation is demographic segmentation.

Demographic segmentation includes dividing your market into different subgroups based on demographic factors.

It is quite common for marketers to segment based on demographics, as demographic factors are often associated with the wants and needs of consumers. Demographic characteristics are also relatively easy to measure. For example, measuring someone's age is more straightforward than measuring their values.

Popular demographic variables used to segment markets are:

  • Age: consumers' wants and needs change with their age.

Many toothpaste brands have different lines of products for children and adults. For example, Colgate markets its natural fruit-flavored toothpaste and extra soft toothbrushes that feature cartoon characters for children and babies.

  • Income: segmenting based on income is popular for specific industries like cosmetics, automobiles, or financial services.

Car manufacturers often have a wide range of cars available for customers based on the amount they are willing to pay. For example, Tesla targets its Model 3 cars as a more affordable version of its Model S line.

  • Family size: family size also impacts the purchase decisions of customers.

A couple with four children is more likely to buy a 7-seater car than a couple with one child.

  • Gender: gender differentiation has been used by marketers for a long time regarding goods like clothing or cosmetics.

Women's shower gels or deodorants tend to be packaged in lighter and softer colored bottles, whereas men's products are packaged in dark-colored bottles.

Check out our explanation of demographic segmentation to learn more about the implications of segmenting by gender.

  • Occupation: segmenting based on occupation divides the market into groups based on their job function or seniority. This form of segmentation is popular in business-to-business (B2B) markets, which try to sell their product or service by targeting individuals who have the authority to make purchase decisions for their business.

The CEO of a company will have the authority to purchase new software for the company, whereas an intern will most likely not.

Geographic Market Segmentation

The following form of segmentation is geographic segmentation, which creates customer groups based on location.

Geographic segmentation involves dividing the market into geographical groups like countries, states, cities, or neighborhoods.

Geographic segmentation can be a valuable tool for marketers, as certain customers from different parts of a country could have varying wants and needs. For example, people living in a country's rural areas might have different needs than those living in large cities. It is also possible that people living in different parts of the world will have distinct needs due to their country's climate.

People living in the Alps want strenuous winter tires for colder months. On the other hand, winter tires will most likely not be one of the needs of consumers living in Jamaica.

Psychographic Market Segmentation

Psychographic market segmentation is a more complex form of segmentation as it involves examining specific customer traits.

Psychographic segmentation is a technique in which consumers are divided based on psychological traits that influence their purchase patterns.

Psychographic segmentation divides consumers into groups based on psychological and personality traits, values, or lifestyles. Sometimes people in the same demographic group can exhibit different psychographic characteristics. Psychographic segmentation considers the 'how' and 'what' people do in their lives. Psychographic segmentation is beneficial to organizations as it helps them understand consumers' thought processes.

Dividing your customers into subgroups based on their opinion or values on a particular topic or their lifestyle (food habits, daily activities) is an example of psychographic segmentation.

Behavioral Market Segmentation

Finally, behavioral market segmentation involves creating subgroups based on consumer behavior.

In behavioral segmentation, marketers divide consumers into subgroups based on their attitudes and behavior.

Behavioral segmentation might include creating customer segments with similar knowledge of, attitudes toward, or usage of a product or service.

Take a look at our behavioral targeting explanation to explore the different forms of behavioral targeting further.

There are four ways a marketer might approach behavioral segmentation based on product attitudes:

  • Occasions: we can separate groups of customers based on occasions. Do they use the products daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.? Based on these occasions, we can understand when customers develop a need, purchase, and use a product. For example, air travel is influenced by occasions related to business or holidays.

  • User status: here, consumers can be categorized into potential users, first-time users, regular users, ex-users, and non-users.

  • Usage rate: we can segment customers into light, medium, or heavy users. As a business owner, you would most likely want to attract heavy users of your product or service.

  • Loyalty: marketers can usually split their customer base into four different groups based on the loyalty factor:

    • Hardcore loyals stick to one brand only.

    • Split loyals are loyal to a few brands at a time.

    • Shifting loyals are those that change their loyalty from one brand to another.

    • Switchers are not loyal to any specific brand.

Benefits of Market Segmentation

Market segmentation is a handy marketing tool for businesses. Segmentation can guide companies in developing appropriate market strategies by gaining helpful insight into consumers.

Here are some of the main advantages of market segmentation.

  • Better customer understanding,

  • Insight into consumer behavior, buying habits, and purchase patterns,

  • Allows organizations to understand consumer needs,

  • Helps organizations create and strengthen brand loyalty,

  • Helps organizations develop effective marketing campaigns to target specific groups of consumers,

  • Allows organizations to form an appropriate marketing strategy,

  • Leads to better insights that help organizations create effective forecasts and budgets,

  • Helps organizations optimize their pricing and product features to attract more customers,

  • Can lead to increased revenues and profitability.

Disadvantages of Market Segmentation

Although market segmentation has many advantages, it also has its set of disadvantages. Let's take a closer look.

The following are some of the primary disadvantages of market segmentation:

  • Inaccuracy: If market research data is incorrect and the segments the marketer constructed are inaccurate, the marketer might not engage customers; thus, the segmentation process might bring considerable losses to the company.

  • Expensive: It takes a lot of research to come up with appropriate customer segments. Although the company can conduct the research, it may also decide to hire external agencies to conduct the research, which can be costly.

  • Waste of resources: The marketer might spend a lot of time creating different campaigns to target the various customer segments. The company wastes significant time and resources if segments are inaccurate or simply unengaged by the campaign.

Market Segmentation Process

Let's now examine the market segmentation process through an example.

Imagine you are a marketing manager at Coca-Cola. You interview some of your customers, talk to your sales team, and look at previous sales data. Based on this data, you find out that creating multiple customer segments would be most effective.

Market Segmentation A Coca Cola can in front of a red background StudySmarterFig. 2. Coca-Cola Segmentation Example

Demographically, you segment customers based on family size. You find that you can divide customers into different groups - individual buyers who tend to purchase small cans of Coca-Cola, smaller families who tend to buy large bottles of Coca-Cola, and larger families who tend to purchase family packs or value packs of Coca-Cola.

Psychographically, you segment your customers based on lifestyle. Here, you find that customers with busy lifestyles occasionally purchase Coca-Cola cans from an office vending machine as a quick caffeine boost during the day. You also notice that some customers purposefully go to the shop searching for Coca-Cola products.

Behaviourally, you segment your customers based on loyalty. Here you find that some hardcore loyals only drink Coca-Cola when it comes to soft drinks. You also notice that there are shifting loyal customers who used to drink Coca-Cola but now drink Pepsi. Finally, you can group some customers into the 'switchers' category - they are not loyal to any soft drink brand.

This information allows you to tailor your marketing strategy and communications efforts to suit the different customer segments.

Market Segmentation - Key takeaways

  • Market segmentation divides the market into different subgroups.
  • The rule of thumb in segmentation is that the difference within groups (segments) should be low, and the difference between groups should be high.
  • A market segment consists of a group of customers who have similar needs and wants.
  • It is the marketer's goal to identify the appropriate subgroups of consumers.
  • It is possible to segment consumers based on demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral factors.
  • There are many benefits to segmenting a market, as it allows managers to understand their customers better based on their behavior, needs, and purchase patterns.
  • Segmentation also allows marketers to come up with effective marketing strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions about Market Segmentation

Market segmentation is the process of dividing a market into groups of consumers that share similar characteristics and attributes.

The four types of market segmentation are demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral segmentation. 

Market segmentation is important as it allows companies to better understand customer wants, needs, and behavior. Market segmentation can also help businesses come up with effective marketing strategies and campaigns that increase brand loyalty. 

Audience segmentation can help businesses target the right groups of customers with their inbound marketing efforts. This may increase brand awareness and engagement.

The four bases used to segment consumer markets include demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral traits. 

Final Market Segmentation Quiz

Question

What is a market segment?

Show answer

Answer

Market segmentation divides the market into different subgroups. A market segment consists of a group of customers who have similar needs and wants. It is the marketer's goal to identify the appropriate subgroups of consumers.

Show question

Question

What is a market?


Show answer

Answer

The market is defined by the group of people who would potentially be interested in your products or services. They are people with wants and needs and the ability and willingness to buy products and services.

Show question

Question

What are descriptive characteristics? And what is other characteristics are used for segmentation?


Show answer

Answer

It is possible to segment markets based on descriptive characteristics like demographics or geographic location. Another type of segmentation involves looking at the different types of behavior demonstrated by a consumer group.

Show question

Question

What are the four different types of segmentation?


Show answer

Answer

The 4 main types of segmentation are:

  • Demographic segmentation 

  • Geographic segmentation 

  • Psychographic segmentation 

  • Behavioral segmentation

Show question

Question

What are some of the factors to take into account when segmenting based on demographics?


Show answer

Answer

  • Age

  • Income 

  • Gender

  • Family size 

  • Occupation 

Show question

Question

What are some of the factors to take into account when segmenting based on geographics?


Show answer

Answer

  • Rural vs. city 

  • Country

  • Climate 

  • Time zone 

Show question

Question

What are some of the factors to take into account when segmenting based on psychographics?


Show answer

Answer

  • Lifestyle 

  • Personality 

  • Values ​​and beliefs 

  • Hobbies 

  • Interests 

Show question

Question

What are the four different types of loyalty used for behavioral segmentation?


Show answer

Answer

  • Hard-core loyals: stick to one brand only 

  • Split loyals: are loyal to a few brands at a time 

  • Shifting loyals: those that change their loyalty from one brand to another

  • Switchers: are not loyal to any specific brand

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not part of behavioral segmentation?

Show answer

Answer

Income

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not part of demographic segmentation?


Show answer

Answer

Lifestyle

Show question

Question

Which of the following statements is correct?

I. Demographic segmentation is the most useful for marketers. 

II. Behavioral segmentation can be conducted by looking at occasions at which consumers use your product. 

Show answer

Answer

Only statement II. Is correct 


Show question

Question

What is psychographic segmentation?


Show answer

Answer

Psychographic segmentation is a segmentation technique in which consumers are divided based on psychological traits that influence their purchase patterns.

Show question

Question

Name two benefits of market segmentation. 


Show answer

Answer

  • Insight into consumer behaviour, buying habits, and purchase patterns. 
  • Allows organisations to understand consumer needs. 
  • Helps organisations come up with effective marketing campaigns to target specific groups of consumers.

Show question

Question

Which of the following statements is correct? 


I. Market segmentation can help organizations formulate appropriate marketing strategies.

II. Market segmentation is only useful for large companies.

Show answer

Answer

Only statement I. is correct.

Show question

Question

Which of the following statements is not true?


Show answer

Answer

Market segmentation increases profits and cuts costs

Show question

Question

What is market segmentation?

Show answer

Answer

Segmentation is the process of dividing a market into groups of consumers with similar attributes 

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not a type of market segmentation?

Show answer

Answer

a. Demographic Segmentation 

Show question

Question

How many types of market segmentation are there?

Show answer

Answer

a. 4

Show question

Question

Who has the responsibility to identify the appropriate subgroups?

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Answer

Marketers 

Show question

Question

A benefit of market segmentation is developing effective marketing strategy 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

A market is a group of people who potentially will be able to purchase products and services 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Segmentation can be based on ...... or ....

Show answer

Answer

Descriptive or geographic location

Show question

Question

Some variables of demographic segmentation are all except 

Show answer

Answer

a. Age

Show question

Question

Some benefits of market segmentation are all

Show answer

Answer

a. Better customer understanding 

Show question

Question

A consumer loyalty can be categorised into four namely; Hardcore loyalty, split loyalty, switchers and shifting loyalty

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Coca cola has identified its consumers in England to prefer diet coke due to health preference, this has made coca cola to better understand why its diet coke sells better than other products. What type of segmentation is this?

Show answer

Answer

a. Behaviour 

Show question

Question

From the diagram below McDonalds has separated its customers into subgroups based on behaviour and psychographic variables. Based on your understanding, do you agree with the variables categorisation?

Behavioral 

Psychographically

  • Lifestyle

  • Loyalty status

  • Usage rate

  • Personality

  • Purchase occasion 

  • Social class

Show answer

Answer

Yes

Show question

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