The Secret to Segmentation Research Success

The Secret to Segmentation Research Success

Market segmentation research sometimes gets a bad rap. For one, segment profiles tend to be more conceptual in nature than the results from other research studies. They also require careful interpretation and a fair amount of collaboration when putting them to use across your organization. And yet, these are the same reasons why segmentation can be such an effective research tool. When well designed, it can reveal important insights about what motivates your customers and identify ways to connect with them on a deeper level. By focusing on three essential steps, you’ll go a long way to ensuring your segmentation is successful – one that inspires sound business decisions and is adopted across your organization.

Engage Stakeholders

Define Target Audience

Design Multidimensional Survey

Design Multidimensional Survey

Whether you’re launching your first program or updating an existing one, following these steps will help you maximize the value of your segmentation. But don’t think you need to go it alone. Your research firm should be your partner throughout this process helping you design an impactful study with lasting value.

Engage Your Internal Stakeholders

Designing a successful segmentation study starts by getting internal buy-in and support across key areas of your organization. Your stakeholders need to understand what to expect from the study and how the results can be used to drive your business forward. Bring them into the process from the start to ensure the study will meet their needs and inform their decision-making. Here are some key questions to ask:

  • Who are all of the internal stakeholders who can benefit from a deeper understanding of your customers?
  • What customer experiences do they impact most directly?
  • What questions do they have about your customers?
  • How will they benefit from an enhanced knowledge of your customer segments?
  • What business functions and marketing tools need to be linked to segmentation findings? (CRM, new product development, media planning, etc.)

Clearly Define Your Target Audience

Next, you need to clearly define the target audience you will be including in your segmentation research. In an ideal world, you would include a broad cross-section of your audience, both current and prospective customers. However, there are times when cost constraints might require limiting the sample to a more focused target, such as existing customers, or perhaps a certain geographic area. Consider the following questions to help you decide:

  • What type of customer information already exists within the organization to help you reach a broad audience (email, phone, address, demographics, purchase transaction data, etc.)?
  • What geographies are of highest importance in order to achieve your future business goals (regional, national, international)?
  • When including prospective customers, what screening criteria should be included to ensure proper representation, without being too broad or overly restrictive (demographics, life-stage, category usage, competitive brand usage, etc.)?

Give Your Survey Multidimensional Layers

Your survey needs to be broad enough in scope to reveal meaningful and useful consumer segments. In the best-case scenario, it will cover a spectrum of topic areas to help identify naturally occurring customer segments. Here are four key areas to consider including:

  • Demographics – Robust profile to enable communication targeting across a variety of media
  • Behaviors – Key moments throughout the customer journey to help reveal the variety of customer experiences
  • Consumer Needs – Range of consumer needs being fulfilled by your product category
  • Psychographics – Variety of lifestyle factors, personal interests, activities, and values that may impact purchase decisions and category usage

Having active and engaged stakeholders, a well-defined target audience and a survey that yields a deeper understanding of the customer on multiple dimensions are essential to the success of any market research study. However, the unique nature of segmentation research makes getting these three steps done right all the more important.

At the end of the day, the results of any marketing research initiative need to be socialized among the key stakeholders. Without that, you might miss out on opportunities to get the greatest value out of your research investment. Segmentation research is no different. It has tremendous value for a wide audience of cross-functional stakeholders. Cap off your segmentation study by socializing findings across your organization and integrating them into action plans to complete the process. After all, the ultimate proof of successful marketing research, segmentation or otherwise, is when your internal stakeholders use the resulting knowledge to improve the customer experience in a meaningful way.


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