Market segmentation is a marketing strategy which involves dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers, businesses, or countries who have, or are perceived to have, common needs, interests, and priorities, and then designing and implementing strategies to target them. Market segmentation strategies are generally used to identify and further define the target customers, and provide supporting data for marketing plan elements such as positioning to achieve certain marketing plan objectives. Businesses may develop product differentiation strategies, or an undifferentiated approach, involving specific products or product lines depending on the specific demand and attributes of the target segment.
- 1 Types of Market Segmentation
- 2 Using segmentation in customer retention
- 3 Price discrimination
- 4 Algorithms and approaches
- 5 See also
- 6 References
Types of Market Segmentation
The following are the most common forms of market segmentation practices.
Marketers can segment according to geographic criteria—nations, states, regions, countries, cities, neighborhoods, or postal codes. The geo-cluster approach combines demographic data with geographic data to create a more accurate or specific profile. With respect to region, in rainy regions merchants can sell things like raincoats, umbrellas and gumboots. In hot regions, one can sell summer clothing. A small business commodity store may target only customers from the local neighborhood, while a larger department store can target its marketing towards several neighborhoods in a larger city or area, while ignoring customers in other continents. Geographic Segmentation is important and may be considered the first step to international marketing, followed by demographic and psychographic segmentation. The use of national borders is the institutional use of geographic segmentation, although geographic segments may be classified by identified geological regions.
Segmentation according to demography is based on variables such as age, gender, occupation and education level  or according to perceived benefits which a product/service may provide. Benefits may be perceived differently depending on a consumer's stage in the life cycle. Demographic segmentation divides markets into different life stage groups and allows for messages to be tailored accordingly.
A variant of this approach known as ‘firmographic’ or ‘feature based’ segmentation is commonly used in business-to-business markets (it’s estimated that 81% of B2B marketers use this technique). Under this approach the target market is segmented based on features such as company size (either in terms of revenue or number of employees), industry sector or location (country and/or region).
Behavioral segmentation divides consumers into groups according to their knowledge of, attitude towards, usage rate, response, loyalty status, and readiness stage to a product. There is an extra connectivity with all other market related sources. Behavioral segmentation divides buyers into segments based on their knowledge, attitudes,uses, or responses concerning a product. Many marketers believe that behavior variables are the best starting point for building market segments. 
Psychographic segmentation, which is sometimes called Lifestyle. This is measured by studying the activities, interests, and opinions (AIOs) of customers. It considers how people spend their leisure, and which external influences they are most responsive to and influenced by. Psychographic is highly important to segmentation, because it identifies the personal activities and targeted lifestyle the target subject endures, or the image they are attempting to project. Mass Media has a predominant influence and effect on Psychographic segmentation. Lifestyle products may pertain to high involvement products and purchase decisions, to speciality or luxury products and purchase decisions.
Occasion segmentation focuses on analyzing occasions, independent of the customers, such as considering Coke for occasions of being thirsty, having dinner or going out, without taking into consideration the differences an affluent and middle-class customer would have during these occasions.
‘Occasional customer segmentation’ merges customer-level and occasion-level segmentation models and provides an understanding of the individual customers’ needs, behavior and value under different occasions of usage and time. Unlike traditional segmentation models, this approach assigns more than one segment to each unique customer, depending on the current circumstances they are under.
Segmentation by Benefits
Segmentation can take place according to benefits sought by the consumer/customer.
Cultural Segmentation is used to classify markets according to cultural origin. Culture is a strong dimension of consumer behaviour and is used to enhance customer insight and as a component of predictive models. Cultural segmentation enables appropriate communications to be crafted to particular cultural communities, which is important for message engagement in a wide range of organisations, including businesses, government and community groups. Cultural Segmentation can be applied to existing customer data to measure market penetration in key cultural segments by product, brand, channel as well as traditional measures of recency, frequency and monetary value. These benchmarks form an important evidence-base to guide strategic direction and tactical campaign activity, allowing engagement trends to be monitored over time.
Cultural Segmentation can also be mapped according to state, region, suburb and neighbourhood. This provides a geographical market view of population proportions and may be of benefit in selecting appropriately located premises, determining territory boundaries and local marketing activities.
Census data is a valuable source of cultural data but cannot meaningfully be applied to individuals. Name analysis (onomastics) is the most reliable and efficient means of describing the cultural origin of individuals. The accuracy of using name analysis as a surrogate for cultural background in Australia is 80-85%, after allowing for female name changes due to marriage, social/political reasons or colonial influence. The extent of name data coverage means a user will code a minimum of 99 percent of individuals with their most likely ancestral origin.
Multi-Variable Account Segmentation
In Sales Territory Management, using more than one criterion to characterize the organization’s accounts, such as segmenting sales accounts by government, business, customer, etc. and account size/duration, in effort to increase time efficiency and sales volume.
Using segmentation in customer retention
The basic approach to retention-based segmentation is that a company tags each of its active customers with four values:
- Is this customer at high risk of canceling the company's service?
One of the most common indicators of high-risk customers is a drop off in usage of the company's service. For example, in the credit card industry this could be signaled through a customer's decline in spending on his or her card.
- Is this customer at high risk of switching to a competitor to purchase product?
Many times customers move purchase preferences to a competitor brand. This may happen for many reasons those of which can be more difficult to measure. It is many times beneficial for the former company to gain meaningful insights, through data analysis, as to why this change of preference has occurred. Such insights can lead to effective strategies for winning back the customer or on how not to lose the target customer in the first place.
- Is this customer worth retaining?
This determination boils down to whether the post-retention profit generated from the customer is predicted to be greater than the cost incurred to retain the customer, and includes evaluation of customer lifecycles.
- What retention tactics should be used to retain this customer?
For customers who are deemed worthy of saving, it is essential for the company to know which save tactics are most likely to be successful. Tactics commonly used range from providing special customer discounts to sending customers communications that reinforce the value proposition of the given service.
Where a monopoly exists, the price of a product is likely to be higher than in a competitive market and the price can be increased further if the market can be segmented with different prices charged to different segments charging higher prices to those segments willing and able to pay more and charging less to those whose demand is price elastic. The price discriminator might need to create rate fences that will prevent members of a higher price segment from purchasing at the prices available to members of a lower price segment. This behavior is rational on the part of the monopolist, but is often seen by competition authorities as an abuse of a monopoly position, whether or not the monopoly itself is sanctioned. Areas in which this price discrimination is seen range from transportation to pharmaceuticals. Price discrimination may be considered price-fixing under the control of an oligopoly or consortium in certain circumstances of deregulation and leisure.
Algorithms and approaches
Any existing discrete variable is a segmentation - this is called "a priori" segmentation, as opposed to "post-hoc" segmentation resulting from a research project commissioned to collect data on many customer attributes. Customers can be segmented by gender ('Male' or 'Female') or attitudes ('progressive' or 'conservative'), but also by discretized numeric variables, such as by age ("<30" or ">=30") or income ("The 99% (AGI<US $300,000)" vs "The 1% (AGI >= US $300,000)").
Common statistical techniques for segmentation analysis include:
- Clustering algorithms such as K-means or other Cluster analysis
- Statistical mixture models such as Latent Class Analysis
- Ensemble approaches such as Random Forests
- Other algorithms such as Neural Networks
- Demographic profile
- Mass marketing
- Niche market
- Precision marketing
- Target market
- Industrial market segmentation
- Sagacity Segmentation
- 'What is geographic segmentation' Kotler, Philip, and Kevin Lane Keller. Marketing Management. Prentice Hall, 2006. ISBN 978-0-13-145757-7
- Reid, Robert D.; Bojanic, David C. (2009). Hospitality Marketing Management (5 ed.). John Wiley and Sons. p. 139. ISBN 9780470088586. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
[...] market segmentation can be based on the benefits that consumers are seeking when they purchase a product.
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- "B2B Market Segmentation Research" (PDF). Circle Research. Circle Research. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- Fripp, Geoff.“Market Segmentation Bases” Market Segmentation Study Guide
- Marketing Padawan Designing Marketing Strategies With the Help of STP
- Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong : Principles of Marketing Pearson Education Limited 2014, 2012
- "Market Segmentation and Targeting". Academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu. 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- "Occasional Customer Segmentation". Forte Consultancy Group. 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- Dove, Michael (2013-09-05). "Cultural Segmentation - Customer Segmentation". OriginsInfo.com.au. Retrieved 6 October 2014.Cultural Segmentation
- Dove, Michael (2013-09-05). I have census data. How does Origins add value? "Data Reliability". OriginsInfo.com.au. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Dove, Michael (2013-09-05). "Cultural Segmentation - How Does Origins Work". OriginsInfo.com.au. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "CHAPTER 14 - Time, Territory, and Self-Management: Keys to Success". People.tamu.edu. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- Gupta, Sunil. Lehmann, Donald R. Managing Customers as Investments: The Strategic Value of Customers in the Long Run, pages 70-77 (“Customer Retention” section). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education/Wharton School Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-13-142895-0
- Goldstein, Doug. “What is Customer Segmentation?” MindofMarketing.net, May 2007. New York, NY.
- Bhanji, Shaira (2 April 2012). "Price Discrimination in Pharmaceutical Companies: The Method to the "Madness"". Harvard College Global Health Review. Retrieved 15 July 2014.