The segmentation of the market involves the dividing of entire market into small customers groups who have different type of responses for different marketing strategies for particular service or product. In this way the organization can design the marketing policies according to the particular needs and requirements of each segment in order to have more profitability by more generating favorable responses than by simply applying a single marketing policy for whole market.
The market segmentation is mostly done at the level of customers. But in case of international marketing sometimes markets are also segmented on the basis of whole countries by considering the aspects that are common among countries. This type of segmentation is not proved that much successful as countries have great variation in them and it is difficult to take meaningful averages. The most suitable basis that is used to segment the markets is customers and their unique response behaviors or purchasing decisions.
Many factors affect the purchasing decisions of customers that are uncontrollable by them but they have indirect or direct influences on the lifestyle of customers. Culture is one of these factors that affect the consumer behaviors. It represents the shared beliefs, behaviors and meanings among the members of a society. Whatever we do is based upon these shared behaviors that are transferred in a society from one member to another. It is a wide concept and has not as much importance for marketers as the groups within the culture or sub-cultures.
The subculture is consisting of members who have their own values, beliefs and customs within the society that distinguish them from others in same society. Moreover they also obey the major values, beliefs and behaviors of dominant culture of the whole society. Subculture can be defined as a separate cultural group that prevails in a society as recognizable segment. There can be different types of subcultures prevail in a society like religious subcultures, ethnic subcultures, age subcultures and disabilities subcultures.
So the knowledge of subcultures is very much important for marketers while segmenting their markets in smaller groups. Because the goal of all the efforts of marketers are to convince the customers to buy their brands and a very effective tool that is usually used by them to achieve this goal is cultural representations. By using this tool it is believed that when products relates to the cultural values the customers feel more comfortable. The marketers put a lot of efforts to understand the differences and similarities prevail in these sub cultural groups. They design their marketing policies for these cultural groups and try to attract them towards the product by aligning the product with the values and beliefs of their subculture. Although it is difficult to develop effective marketing policy for different subcultures, they must put their efforts to get sufficient knowledge about the similarities and differences among these groups in order to capitalize them.
The importance of knowledge of subcultures for marketers while segmenting the markets can be very well understand by discussing the example of a Cigarette manufacturer who wants design the marketing policy for the subcultures groups of United States. The whole market of United States is divided in three sub-cultural groups of African American, Hispanics and Asians.
The one big common factor in Hispanics, African Americans and Asians is that they are minorities in the United States. The first ever minority that migrated to United States is African Americans and after great struggle now they are considered as an important sub-cultural group of America because of their strong influence on politics and culture. The Hispanics is the largest minority of United Stated although they could not gain that much influence on American politics and culture as African Americans. This subculture has many similarities like language, food, political views and religion but this is a highly divided subculture. Just like Hispanics, Asians is also a subculture group that is highly divided but they don’t have as much similarities as Hispanics has. A big challenge for the company’s marketers is to design the marketing policies that best align with the norms and values of these subcultures by identifying the differences and similarities of these sub-cultural groups.
- African Americans: African American is most organized and strong sub-cultural group of United States. However they belong to different cultures of Africa but they lived many years under ethnic discrimination and efforts of many years have united them now. Today the presence of African Americans can be seen in Music, Sports and even in Politics with great influence. Now they are considered a strong group of America and they are showing their success not only politically but also by material possessions in the form of jewelry, luxury vehicles and recognition in public.
- Hispanics: This is a subculture group of United States with high diversities but according to CBS News, 2003 they also have a largest population of minority in United States. They belong to more than 20 different countries and cultures. They are more concerned with religion and families and most of them belong to Catholic thoughts. The number of Hispanics is increasing due to more immigrants every year and they want acceptance in the society as a strong influential group.
- Asians: The challenges faced by Asian are not different from Hispanics; Asian is even more diversified subculture group because they differ in religion, language, food and even in facial features. The members of this group belongs to the countries of China, Japan, India and Thailand and these all countries differ in languages, eating habits and even in facial features. One common thing that all Asians have who immigrate to United States is that want to achieve a better lifestyle so their more intentions are towards the achievement of success and they are mostly involved in entrepreneurial activities.
The knowledge of sub-cultural groups for marketers has great significance while designing marketing strategies to target these groups. As the African Americans have goals to be most successful individuals the need of the cigarette marketers is to design the strategy that focuses on assigning a sense of uniqueness, class and sophistication for all those customers who will be smoking that cigarette. So the association of the brand with any public and highly successful African American will give a very much positive response for the brand. On other hand the Hispanics more concerned with belongingness and family so the strategy that more focuses on an image of traditions and trust factors will have more positive results. The thing that needs more attentions of marketers is that this group is highly diversified group and differs in status as well. The use of language will also be very much critical towards the success of campaign for this group. In case of Asians this subculture is considered as low profile group and strategy that will best suit for this group will be focused on respect of individual identity and traditions. The languages used for this group will more suitable if native language will be used.
The success of an effective segmentation and a good marketing strategy is highly based on the knowledge of the marketer about the subcultures prevail in the society. People belongs to different subcultures differ from each others in many terms. They differ in their languages, their ages, their eating habits, beliefs, and even in facial features. So to design a well aligned marketing strategy the marketer should have sufficient knowledge of the sub cultural groups of the society.