What is market targeting and segmentation

The other day, over a chat with my very good friend and co-founder of Nairobi-based 3D printing company, Cubic3D, I asked Anthony, “who do you sell to?” The reason for asking this question was, Anthony is a technical person with an engineering background and whenever we speak, he can best illustrate issues from an engineering perspective, but then, his customers come from across industries. So, I wanted to know exactly how he converts leads who are less technically oriented. At the end of the day the discussion turned from engineering to marketing, and most prominently, I realized that a considerable chunk of his brand’s success lies in segmentation which subsequently defines the messaging/ communication strategy to be used to different clients based on their segment, that is, the targeting strategy.

So what is this targeting? Targeting is the process of narrowing down the focus placed in the market to a more specific consumer group. In a marketing setup, it refers to defining or zeroing down the market segment even further in order to provide relevant solutions. To carry out successful targeting, it is almost inevitable to have in place market segments. Market segmentation is a marketing strategy in which marketers identify and bundle together groups of customers within the market based on similar characteristics among the customers. Segmentation is a way to separate a large customer base into a set of buyers out of the brand’s market share existing and potential customers. Market segmentation is a delicate process which calls for a meticulous attempt to identify the customer needs and interests, shared attributes like comparable lifestyles as well as profiles of comparable segments. To execute an effective segmentation strategy, a brand has to showcase products and their attributes such as cost, quantity, quality, promotion, place and so on to their general market so that other clients can generally make an informed decision to identify with particular segments. Once the market share is successfully segmented, the marketer has to select the specific targeting strategies that can then work for that particular segment. Segmentation is an important marketing strategy because different clients have different characteristic features. For example, there may be a client that respects price as their number one guiding principle, while another respects quality, yet another respects convenience of place. Trying to serve the entire market could lead to a catastrophe due to limited resources and overstretched market needs in different market segments. The general point of the section is to expose you and distinguish between the three most commonly identified market targeting strategies. 

  1. Undifferentiated/ Mass Marketing
    This is simply defined as selling anything to anyone and everything to everyone. An inextricable strain exists when sellers offer the same or different products to all individuals or organizations that they believe have the same product requirements. This can mainly take place where marketers cannot identify and/ or distinguish clear cut attributes of their clientele such as preferences, customer lifecycle stage and even the competitive edge of their products. As much as this strategy may have its own shortcomings, it is useful in some instances. For example, a high-risk vendor when launching a new product may use this opportunity to spread awareness about their overall brand by using undifferentiated marketing before developing specific segments to focus on. Similarly, when a product declines, it is safe to generalize the target in order to salvage whatever benefits are left to reap. 
  2. Differentiated/ Segmented Marketing
    This strategy can best be illustrated as selling anything to someone, as it is midway between generalizing and concentrating, if I may say so. A differentiation strategy offers buyers something of their own, or something different, that sets them apart from other products or segments, and makes valuable sense to them. It creates high value because the product is of high quality, is somehow technically superior, provides excellent service, or has a special appeal in some form. Differentiation provides a competitive advantage by retaining customers and lowering the price of a company’s specific products, based on the specific learned characteristics of the identified segment. It is important to note here that by being more specific in targeting a brand can easily know what matters to their consumers and provide that which can help get and keep customers since consumers are less likely to seek alternatives if they are satisfied. 
  3. Concentrated/ Niche Marketing
    This strategy can be illustrated as selling something to someone, a very specific approach, and has become very common in recent years. The business can create focus one way or another. For example, a company can decide to serve a particular niche or market segment, or they can take a different perspective, for as long as it is very specific that it is almost tangible. This strategy may be effective in helping a business pin down what really matters. In addition, within a specific target market or niche, the targeting company may follow the most targeted markets. As an important point to take to the office, targeting strategies attempt to opt for low cost or differentiation into highly targeted product segments or niches. Subsequently, the resources and skills that a business or its employees put into work must also be specific.
  4. Micromarketing
    This type of marketing refers to even more concentrated marketing and can be divided into localized and individual marketing. Localized marketing refers to selling to people within a specific geographical area such as a village, town or city, while individual marketing refers to marketing directed to specific individuals. 

Conclusion

The basic nature of competition in many industries around the world is changing, especially with the advent of computer networking and telecommunications, and what is interesting is that the speed of this change is endless and increasing. As it is now, defining industry boundaries is becoming an intricate challenge. Common sources of competitive advantage such as the standard economy and large advertising budgets are no longer as effective as they once were. Additionally, we have already outgrown many traditional management ideas, making them of little or no use in taking businesses to the strategic levels of speed, flexibility, efficiency, integration, stability needed in times like this. It is, therefore, very important for business leaders to begin to understand what steps are to be taken to solve specific industry needs in a reliable, law-abiding, consumer-centralized, economical and competitive manner, and this cannot happen is brands do not begin to identify who in specific they sell to, a strategy referred to as market segmentation.

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