Philip Kotler reminds us that if markets are to be segmented and cultivated, they must meet certain requirements. Segments must be:
Assuming your target markets meet those requirements, sales and marketing professionals can cultivate these segments to maximize their potential. There are four ways to segment any given market and the choices you make regarding how to segment will impact the quality of your efforts.
The first way to segment a market is by demographics. This is the easiest, most measurable, and most widely used way to segmentation method. The market is divided into groups based on any number of factors including age, race, family size, sex, income level, net worth, social class, nationality, and more. Companies like InfoUSA have created massive databases that help businesses segment the market using these and other consumer attributes. These database companies offer free services that allow business owners to see how large segments are and make good decisions regarding how to best market to potential clients.
Segmenting a market geographically requires a company to focus solely on a specific neighborhood, city, state, region, or country. One of the best examples of a company who uses geography to segment markets is Pillsbury. Marketers at Pillsbury use software to analyze food preferences and buyer behavior right down to individual zip codes throughout the U.S.
Some marketers choose to segment based on the predictable behavior of certain groups of people. This behavior can be triggered by major events like weddings, funerals, having children, or sending children to college. Another component of behavior deals with how certain consumers consistently seek out different benefits from similar products or services such as quickest service, lowest price, or best customer service.
The final way to segment a market is by consumer psychology, which includes variables like lifestyle choices, personality qualities, and value systems. Different lifestyle choices that consumers make include marriage, parenting, healthy eating and exercise decisions, environmental conscientiousness, religious choice, and philanthropic activities.
No doubt, most companies will choose to segment by demographics. It requires less thought and is the easiest to analyze. However, some businesses have been able to serve more clients by broadening their segmentation efforts to include geographic, behavioral, and psychological components. It might make sense for your company to use a different segmentation strategy, too.