What is the Market to be segmented?
question forms the first step in the segmentation process and requires decisions on two important dimensions:
brief discussion about each of these dimensions appears below.
the geographic area.
Keeping it to a single country is a manageable starting point (once
you have completed the market segmentation project for one country you
can then test the applicability of the resulting segments in other countries).
If you want to go beyond a single country then the next guideline is
to keep the projects geographic area within a homogeneous zone,
homogeneous in terms of the stage of market development, the available routes to market and
the pattern of marketing activity that is found there.
the product or service range that will be included.
This refers to both your own and your competitors products or
services. Given that the most appropriate approach to segmentation is
to take a customer perspective, then it would also seem appropriate
to take a customer perspective when viewing the range of
products or services to be included in your project.
do you define the parameters of a customers perspective? The answer to this question once again lies with the customer. When
a customer sets out to make a purchase, be it either spontaneous or
planned, they have a specific purpose or intended use in mind, based
around a need they want to satisfy. There are often many different products
or services they could buy to satisfy this particular need, and your
companys offer is just one of them. So, the appropriate range
of products or services to be included is best captured by describing
the need the customer is looking to satisfy. This will define the 'market' to be segmented.
A market is the aggregation of all the products or services which customers regard as capable of satisfying the same need.
To arrive at a market definition, complete the following sentence (avoiding the use of specific products or services):
The customer need is to . . .
Conclusion: The scope of the segmentation project should take into account a sensible
geographic boundary and a specific need customers are looking to satisfy
with their purchase of a particular product and/or service.
It may be necessary to refine the geographic area and/or the product/service range so that the scope of your project is meaningful in terms of your company’s capabilities and therefore represents opportunities that are realistically available to you. Further refinements may be necessary to take into account internal company ‘boundaries’, such as those imposed by company structure, so that the conclusions from your project can be implemented. Further discussion about product/service range capabilities and company structure considerations can be found on the refinements page.
Comprehensive guidelines on how to determine the scope of a segmentation project can be found in Chapter 4 of Market Segmentation: How to do it and how to profit from it (2012 edition published by John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-1-1184-3267-9).