How do marketing segments work?

If you have a product or service that is aimed at a wide range of people, it’s important to break it down because, as everybody knows, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

The best way to do that from a marketing perspective is to create segments. For example, if you think your product is aimed at the general public, there are many segments within that. Old people, middle aged people, first time buyers, married people, single people, ethnic minorities, students, billionaires, teenagers etc. etc. Once you start to think about it, and think about who will actually buy your product, you can start to narrow it down to a manageable level.

A good example of this is a new IKEA that opened in our area recently amongst much excitement. I went with my daughter one evening and we decided to eat there.

What particularly impressed me was the design of the restaurant which, within a huge open plan space managed to cater for diverse groups of people by having different ‘zones’. There was a family area, brightly coloured and lit with low level seating. There were cosy alcoves with booth seating and lower level lighting, there was a large group area with bar stools along long high level benches. Each zone had its own colour scheme, light fixtures, flooring and furniture, cleverly making an enormous area work for everybody, even though they might all have different requirements.

IKEA is a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but they do think carefully about their customers and having captured the student and ‘first home’ market with cheap and stylish furniture and accessories, they hang onto a lot of those customers well into middle age, giving them a diverse range of different segments from young singles to families and older people.

Your business might have different customer types – if you take your customer base as a whole, you can probably break it down into 3 or 4 ‘segments’ and tailor your products and services to each of those segments, making each of them feel cared for.


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