You can have the best air conditioner in the world but you’re likely to have trouble selling it in Antarctica. The same rule applies to any product or service: No matter how good it is, the other half of the equation is finding the right target market for it.
This is where market segmentation comes into play. This marketing strategy lets you identify the different types of customers that you have and that you want, and it helps you reach them with the right product and the right message.
Let’s review the definition of market segmentation, how it relates to finding your target market, and what types of market segmentation surveys you can use to know your customers in depth.
Market segmentation definition: Market segmentation is the process of dividing a broad population or target market into subgroups of consumers according to certain shared factors. These can be based on demography (age, gender, etc.), geographic location, attitudes, and behavior.
A single person could be part of various different groups. They might share common interests or needs with one group, be residents of the same area as another, or be the same age as another. Each of those subgroups could be a market segment for the brand or company doing the analysis.
Segmentation strategies can vary drastically for different businesses.
Let’s say you sell raincoats. Demographic segments like men, women, and children probably have drastically different preferences from one another. Similarly, geographical segmentation might reveal that people who live somewhere where it rains often—like Seattle or Mawsynram—might view raincoats differently from someone who lives in Arizona or Adelaide.
When you understand these different segments (and segment types) you can begin to craft customer profiles that allow you to better focus efforts from product development to advertising in order to make sure you’re hitting the mark.
Let’s look at the most common types of market segmentation.
Market segmentation surveys help you quickly understand what the various members of your target market have in common—and how they differ. Here are a few different types of market segments you can apply to find your target market:
Some of the most critical data points on existing and potential customers are their basic demographics, like how old they are, what their level of income is, how far they went in their education, etc. Demographic segmentation is often a useful way to divide up your target market, and generally a good first step in any marketing initiative. (You can research this topic in depth on our demographic survey page.)
Where people call home can drastically change how they respond to interactions with your company. Learn where your target customers live and tailor your marketing efforts to account for their local values.
Some of your most subtle but powerful marketing insights can result from this research. Surveys are especially useful for this type of research. They allows you to group your customers based on their lifestyle, including attitudes, values, habits, and opinions. Psychographic segmentation helps decode the emotional elements of buying that might otherwise seem mysterious.
This type of research reveals how customers interact with your particular product or service. For example, how often do they buy it, and where? Position your marketing differently for those who use your product as a daily necessity versus those who see it as a luxury and use it only occasionally.
The various types of market segmentation can be useful in different kinds of business projects, including marketing campaigns, product development, and customer experience and support initiatives. Here are a couple of examples of when this strategy may come in handy to your company:
Market research: When you survey potential customers who are likely to consider your product or service, you’ll have an opportunity to segment. For example, if you send a survey questionnaire about a new product concept to a broad group of people, adding demographic questions will help you understand the differing appeal to men and women, what age group you might want to focus your marketing efforts on, and what shortcomings you need to address to increase your market size. Segmentation can be a useful strategy in concept testing, branding, or product development.
Other opportunities: Segmentation isn’t limited to those scenarios. Event planners might segment sponsors from attendees. Educators might look at the differences between boys and girls, or teachers and support staff. HR departments might segment survey results by job level, time with the company, or department.
The key is to think about how you will want to segment before writing a survey. If you don’t ask the right questions, you might not be able to segment your market the way you want to when the time comes to analyze your results.
Most of the time, demographic data is the first type you want to collect about your customers. It’s worth taking a deeper look into it.
A few well-directed demographic survey questions can help you obtain key data for your market segmentation analysis. Knowing your target market’s age, gender, income, and education levels (among other factors) can give you a much better sense of who they are.
Try these demographic survey templates to add the right expert-designed questions to your market segmentation questionnaire.
How old are your customers? What are their income and education levels? Use this as your starting point for in-depth analysis.
If you market to other businesses, ask them about their own customers to better understand their needs.
To understand your B2B clients, get a broad look at how they define their target markets.
We know you are not the type of marketer to try to sell air conditioners in the North Pole. But now that we’ve gone over the basic concepts of market segmentation, you can feel confident as you define your customer segments and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly.