The power of segmentation


Imagine yourself sitting on a coach, bound for the stunning coastline and scenic islands of West Cork. Look around at your fellow travellers, and take in their profiles — you might see a group of young people from Rome, a couple in their 50s from Texas, while sitting next to you is a solo explorer from Japan. Each person on that coach has a different vision of Ireland and is here to achieve something very personal. 

For some visitors to Ireland, it might be a chance to reconnect with a land they last visited in their youth, and bring nostalgic memories back to life. Others will be looking for a modern, dynamic social scene, teamed with world-class food experiences. To approach this diverse group of passengers with one message would be to lose a valuable opportunity to really connect with each and every one of them on a meaningful basis.

That’s where market segmentation comes in. With the advent of social media and analytics, the old one-size-fits-all approach to marketing has been utterly discarded, in favour of segmenting (or targeting) your marketing to different audiences. Traditional marketing was limited in scope; radio spots and magazine ads by their nature would be seen by the masses, meaning true engagement was often a hit and miss affair, with no key performance indicators available.

Market segmentation offers a succinct definition of market segmentation and what it means:

Market segmentation is a marketing strategy that involves identifying subgroups within a brand’s target market. These subgroups will have common needs, interests, and desires, meaning separate strategies can be developed that will appeal to each group. Once different market segments have been identified, the strategy will further define the target customers to better understand the various groups and how to market to them.

The rise of social media as a marketing tool has meant that audiences can be filtered by location, age group and interests. Broadly speaking, segmentation can be divided up into the following categories: 

  • Demographic: based on age, generation, gender, religion, occupation, income or education.
  • Geographic: based on geographies, and varying from broad to localised. Regions, countries, states and cities can all be examined for potential geographic opportunities.
  • Psychographic: based on the activities, interests, and opinions of customers.

Market segmentation can take many forms — anyone familiar with the workings of MailChimp or other email tools will probably already be familiar with dividing their emails into test groups to analyse the messages that work for different people. However, to think correctly about your brand from day one, it’s essential to bear segmentation in mind as you identify and hone your message. Rather than simply splitting up your communications and aiming them at different target groups, create a series of “buyer personas” from the very beginning, so you can visualise your different audiences and tailor your brand message accordingly. 

Read this Hubspot guide to find out more about creating detailed buyer personas.

Case study 

Recent years have seen Fáilte Ireland, Ireland’s national tourist authority, employ an extremely successful “brand experience” approach to marketing the nation to overseas and domestic consumers. Using a collection of distinct campaigns and several separate experiential strands (food, culture, history, hospitality), Fáilte Ireland has successfully divided up the marketing story of a country into segments, like a delicious pie made with different kinds of filling.

The Wild Atlantic Way — a journey that spans 1,500 miles from the top to the bottom of Ireland — has attracted worldwide attention, and is supported by stunning imagery that makes the most of the west coast of Ireland’s natural beauty. Creating a journey that features many disparate tourist attractions and hospitality providers was a smart way of both including businesses and stakeholders in one overarching marketing campaign, and packaging a collection of abstract experiences into one neat idea for consumers.

Ireland’s Ancient East launched last year, and comprises a collection of experiences on the East Coast of the country, with Dublin as a key gateway. “You bring all those things together in the “joyful immersion” halo and it gives us the opportunity to dial up Ireland in the mind of the overseas consumer,” reflects Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland.

Visit Dublin is another campaign strand that provides a range of experiences tailored towards different personas. A coach tour group arriving in Ireland will find much that speaks to them personally: from visits to a smokehouse in Connemara to surfing lessons in Sligo, cocktail masterclasses in Dublin to a Viking tour of Waterford City.

Read Branding Magazine’s analysis of the transformation of Ireland into a country brand.

Segmenting your own business

As a business owner, you too can speak meaningfully to a broad customer base by segmenting your approach to your marketing. The first and most crucial step is understanding your customers and building accurate buyer personas. Your sources will include interviews, surveys, focus groups, your customer advisory board, sales, reviews, feedback, and social media. All this data is precious, as it will help you gather insights into what your customers want from you. Further steps towards segmentation include:

  • Budget:  There will be additional costs associated with marketing, so the predicted income must exceed these costs.
  • Focus on solutions: connect with consumers by emphasising the solutions your product offers. Workshop the various questions and problems your product answers, and align these with different customer segments.
  • Accessibility: Each market segment must be accessible to your marketing messages. Different groups will respond better to different forms of advertising.
  • Maintain value: Make sure that each of your segments is large enough to merit a targeted marketing approach.

Creating an effective segmentation plan for your brand can be a challenge. Start with these tips and then contact ALHAUS. Our content management experts can not only help you create great content we can help you implement a strategy to make sure you're engaging with all your key markets. For more information about how our services can help your business, contact us today.