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One size does not fit all: Segmenting your customer base
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Segmenting your customer base or intended audience is the key to tailoring and targeting sales through your marketing and communications efforts. It can help your business get the biggest bang for its buck by pinpointing populations that are most likely to respond to your message or purchase your products and services. Segmentation will also help you understand what motivates your audiences so your business can target appeals directly to their needs and desires.Segmenting your customer base requires extensive research. Begin by pulling together your current customer or client list and making an initial analysis of overall purchase history, spending habits and demographics. This will give you a good idea where your efforts will be headed.
Also, before you begin actively segmenting customers, know that there are a few rules of engagement:

  1. Factors should be common before a segment can be made. One or two people exemplifying a quality is not substantial reason enough to create an entire segment worth targeting. Look for large-scale commonalities instead, like gender, location, education, income, products purchased, etc.
  2. There are no Venn diagrams in true segmentation. Segments should be specific enough that no one customer is categorized in multiple segments at any given time. Populations within a segment, however, should be homogeneous. Meaning, they should be as similar as possible in order to predict how they will react to your business’s messaging.
  3. Secondary research is fair game. Sometimes, especially for small businesses, it makes more sense to conduct secondary research in order to segment, looking at data collected as an industry or by a competitor. Although not as accurate as conducting research with your business’s own data, it can save time and money or help business’s with small client pools to predict future trends as they grow.

After pulling basic segments based on the information above, dig a little deeper. Look at how your customers or clients are using your products and services and when. Look at how and where orders are placed and try to discern—through surveys, if necessary—what motivated your customers based on their need or desire.

Once your segments are in place—use research compiled on each to start tailoring your marketing plan differently for each demographic based on your findings.

Consider the following basic segmentation findings…:

  • Purchases made by women account for almost 90 percent of all consumer purchases
  • Women are more likely than men to purchase luxury or brand name items. Appeal to their high-end tastes with a branded Wine Carrier or a Premium Keepsake Box brimming with gourmet goodies.
  • American women aged 50 and older are the healthiest and most active generation of women in history. Associate your brand with their health by using brightly colored Workout Towels or a Sport Bottle for promotions.
  • Size does matter—men are more likely than women to be motivated by messages that appeal to their left-brain that speak to bigger, better, stronger.
  • Teenage boys are said to be responsible for over $100 billion of technological sales each year. Tap into the tech love with themed promo such as a Swivel Flash Drive or a Shower Radio.
  • The number one concern of men when out shopping is the availability of parking close to the entrance of a store, versus the number one concern of women: the availability of help to make purchasing decisions.

You can segment even further by what’s known as psychographic or lifestyle segmentation—segmentation based on personalities and attitudes. Utilize tools like the VALS 2 or PRIZM to help you understand how to segment based on these factors and what they mean.

However deep you dig, make sure your message is heard—appeal in the most effective way possible to those most receptive by implementing marketing segmentation into your business plan today. In the world of marketing and communications, one size does not fit all!

MARKETING TO WOMEN QUICK FACTS.” She-conomy. Web. 11 Jan. 2010.

MARKETING TO WOMEN QUICK FACTS.” She-conomy. Web. 11 Jan. 2010.

MARKETING TO WOMEN QUICK FACTS.She-conomy. Web. 11 Jan. 2010.

“Marketing to Men (Or How to Help Your Husband Buy a Thong).” Usability Effect Website Reviews Audits and Usability Consulting. Web. 11 Jan. 2010.

Secrets Of The Male Shopper.BusinessWeek – Business News, Stock Market & Financial Advice. Web. 11 Jan. 2010.

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