An organisation’s best strategy when deciding on the product offering is to segment the market into a group that will be called the target market. A mass market approach is simply too difficult and wasteful, whereas it is far more effective or efficient to focus all energies into a particular group with similar characteristics and needs. By doing so, an organisation can cater their business model to service this market and gain the most return.
Through target marketing, an organisation can offer a tailored effort to meet the specific demands of a small segment, and in doing so, satisfy customers without spreading resources too thin.
A segment can be divided by geography, demographics, psychographic/lifestyle and behavioural factors. Modern marketing focuses more on behavioural segmenting rather than geography. There are additional segments when it comes to B2B segmenting, dividing with operating variables (such as technology), purchasing behaviour, situational factors, size of operation, industry and organisational characteristics.
There are three major steps in target marketing:
(1) Segmentation: this is where the market is divided into partitions based on key characteristics and elements that are important to the organisation, such as age.
(2) Targeting: each partition is analysed based on how attractive, profitable and accessible they are and one or a combination are selected as the target market.
(3) Differentiation and Positioning: the organisation forms and executes a communication plan to advertise and promote the unique features and benefits of their product to the target market.
An organisation can segment based on however they see fit, however an effective segment has the following characteristics:
(1) Measureable: easy to quantify for research and results
(2) Substantial: enough to provide profits and sufficient opportunities
(3) Accessible: low in obstacles to reach
(4) Differentiable: distinguishable enough from other segments
(5) Actionable: strategies are able to be formulated to take advantage of the segment correctly
(6) Predictable: their behaviour is not sporadic or unmanageable.
Choosing A Segment
Analysing segments to select one can be done in two main ways:
(1) Top-down, which is start with the organisation and its capabilities and working out how to make the segment match.
(2) Bottom-up is analysing the segment and fitting the organisation to the segment.
Basically put, if a segment is highly attractive and the organisation has the strength to enter it, then it is a good segment. However if the segment looks poor and the organisation is not capable, avoid at all costs. The areas in the middle are questionable.
In a segment, an organisation must position their product to how they want their consumers to view it. However, ultimately, it is up to the customers to decide their feelings toward the brand based on all experienced stimuli from the market.
A good marketing strategy will ensure the positioning is favourable and profitable for the organisation, as customers view the product as desirable based on their characteristics.
Changing a position is risky and tricky as positioning can become well ingrained. It could ruin or improve a product or brand’s image. This is one some brands use a ‘flank’ strategy, creating a sub or related brand in the same market with a different positioning, such as Toyota and Lexus in the car market.
To choose a positioning strategy, an organisation must identify the competitive advantages their product and organisation, select the most desirable attribute from the viewpoint of the customers and then communicate this effectively with the target market.
A competitive advantage is a feature, attribute, brand or other factor that gives one product offering something more favourable than all of its competitors in the market. This can be through product differentiation (eg: greater performance, or design), service differentiation (eg: better training or delivery), image differentiation (more desirable branding or events) or personnel differentiation (superior skills and training).
The correct competitive advantages must be chosen to create a unique selling proposition tailored for your target market. The criteria for deciding which differences to promote depend on how important, communicable, superior, distinctive, profitable, affordable and pre-emptive these differences are to the target market.