Market segmentation is the process of dividing the total market for a good or service into several smaller, internally homogeneous groups. Members of each group are similar with respect to the factors that influence demand. Therefore, to stay focused rather than scattering their marketing resources, more marketers are using market segmentation. In this approach, which falls midway between mass marketing and individual marketing, each segment’s buyers are assumed to be quite similar in wants and needs, yet no two buyers are really alike. To use this technique, a company must understand both the levels and the patterns of market segmentation.
Levels of Market Segmentation:
We have four levels of segments
- Local areas
1. Segment Marketing
A market segment consists of a large identifiable group within a market, with similar wants, purchasing power, geographical location, buying attitudes, or buying habits. For example, an automaker may identify four broad segments in the car market: buyers who are primarily seeking (1) basic transportation, (2) high performance, (3) luxury, or (4) safety.
Because the needs, preferences, and behavior of segment members are similar but not identical, Anderson and Narus urge marketers to present flexible market offerings instead of one standard offering to all members of a segment. A flexible market offering consists of the product and service elements that all segment members value, plus options (for an additional charge) that some segment members value. For example, Delta Airlines offers all economy passengers a seat, food, and soft drinks, but it charges extra for alcoholic beverages and earphones.
Segment marketing allows a firm to create a more fine-tuned product or service offering and price it appropriately for the target audience. The choice of distribution channels and communications channels becomes much easier, and the firm may find it faces fewer competitors in certain segments.
2. Niche Marketing
A niche is a more narrowly defined group, (typically a small market whose needs are not being well served). Marketers usually identify niches by dividing a segment into sub-segments or by defining a group seeking a distinctive mix of benefits. For example, a tobacco company might identify two sub-segments of heavy smokers: those who are trying to stop smoking, and those who don’t care.
In an attractive niche, customers have a distinct set of needs; they will pay a premium to the firm that best satisfies their needs; the niche is not likely to attract other competitors; the niche gains certain economies through specialization; and the niche has size, profit, and growth potential. Whereas segments are fairly large and normally attract several competitors, niches are fairly small and may attract only one or two rivals. Still, giants such as IBM can and do lose pieces of their market to niches: Dalgic labeled this confrontation “guerrillas against gorillas.”
Now the low cost of marketing on the Internet is making it more profitable for firms—including small businesses—to serve even seemingly minuscule niches. In fact, 15 percent of all commercial Web sites with fewer than 10 employees take in more than $100,000, and 2 percent ring up more than $1 million. The recipe for Internet niching success:
3. Local Marketing
Target marketing is leading to some marketing programs that are tailored to the needs and wants of local customer groups (trading areas, neighborhoods, even individual stores). Citibank, for instance, adjusts its banking services in each branch depending on neighborhood demographics; Kraft helps supermarket chains identify the cheese assortment and shelf positioning that will optimize cheese sales in low-income, middle-income, and high-income stores and in different ethnic neighborhoods.
Those favoring local marketing see national advertising as wasteful because it fails to address local needs. On the other hand, opponents argue that local marketing drives up manufacturing and marketing costs by reducing economies of scale. Moreover, logistical problems become magnified when companies try to meet varying local requirements, and a brand’s overall image might be diluted if the product and message differ in different localities.
4. Individual Marketing
The ultimate level of segmentation leads to “segments of one,” “customized marketing,” or “one-to-one marketing.”For centuries, consumers were served as individuals: The tailor made the suit and the cobbler designed shoes for the individual. Much business-to-business marketing today is customized, in that a manufacturer will customize the offer, logistics, communications, and financial terms for each major account.