Market segmentation strategy, targeting and positioning

  • Market segmentation strategy, targeting and positioning

    A key consideration for marketers is whether to segment or not to segment. Depending on company philosophy, resources, product type or market characteristics, a business may develop an undifferentiated approach or differentiated approach. In an undifferentiated approach, the marketer ignores segmentation and develops a product that meets the needs of the largest number of buyers. In a differentiated approach the firm targets one or more market segments, and develops separate offers for each segment. Even simple products like salt, which might be considered as commodities, are highly differentiated in practice. In consumer marketing, it is difficult to find examples of undifferentiated approaches. Even goods such as salt and sugar, which were once treated as commodities, are now highly differentiated. Consumers can purchase a variety of salt products; cooking salt, table salt, sea-salt, rock salt, kosher salt, mineral salt, herbal or vegetable salts, iodized salt, salt substitutes and many more. Sugar also comes in many different types – cane sugar, beet sugar, raw sugar, white refined sugar, brown sugar, caster sugar, sugar lumps, icing sugar (also known as milled sugar), sugar syrup, invert sugar and a plethora of sugar substitutes including smart sugar which is essentially a blend of pure sugar and a sugar substitute. Each of these product types is designed to meet the needs of specific market segments. Invert sugar and sugar syrups, for example, are marketed to food manufacturers where they are used in the production of conserves, chocolate and baked goods. Sugars marketed to consumers appeal to different usage segments – refined sugar is primarily for use on the table, while caster sugar and icing sugar are primarily designed for use in home-baked goods.

    The process of segmenting the market is deceptively simple. Seven basic steps describe the entire process including segmentation, targeting and positioning. In practice, however, the task can be very laborious since it involves poring over loads of data, and requires a great deal of skill in analysis, interpretation and some judgment. 

    Although a great deal of analysis needs to be undertaken, and many decisions need to be made, marketers tend to use the so-called S-T-P process, that is Segmentation – Targeting – Positioning, as a broad framework for simplifying the process. Segmentation comprises identifying the market to be segmented; identification, selection, and application of bases to be used in that segmentation; and development of profiles. Targeting comprises an evaluation of each segment’s attractiveness and selection of the segments to be targeted. Positioning comprises identification of optimal position and development of the marketing program.

    The market for a given product or service known as the market potential or the total addressable market (TAM). Given that this is the market to be segmented, the market analyst should begin by identifying the size of the potential market. For existing products and services, estimating the size and value of the market potential is relatively straight forward. However, estimating the market potential can be very challenging when a product or service is totally new to the market and no historical data on which to base forecasts exists

    A basic approach is to first assess the size of the broad population, then estimate the percentage likely to use the product or service and finally to estimate the revenue potential.

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