Has Traditional Market Segmentation Met its Match?

Has Traditional Market Segmentation Met its Match?

Although it difficult to predict how people in the same segments will behave, you can predict how people with the same need states will.

The odds of two people with the same demographic profiles, the same levels of income, similar education levels, living in similar postcodes, etc. having the same list of top ten favourite brands is close to nil...

When it comes to shops and shopping, we should never expect that it is even possible to only ever show an individual customer brands and products that absolutely meets their needs. We also should show them things that, even if they like dislike them, are in some way relevant to them.

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What is more probable, is that their shared experiences of life mean that both are aware of the brands on each other’s lists. In short, neither are likely to be offended by what they see on the other person's list, even if they have a dislike of one or some brands inclusion.

To attempt to address both of these people, as the same person is frankly nonsense.

However, a psychologically-based segmentation offers a more interesting way in which to segment, understanding emotional needs and psychological mindset a person is in in at any given time, can unlock some very relevant opportunities.

Replace segments with need states

It is really difficult to predict how people in the same segments will behave, but you can predict how people with the same need states will, because the latter share psychological, emotional, and rational needs.

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Instead of grouping existing customers and target customers into traditional marketing segments, why not look at the shopper missions and need states of those who are or could be engaging with you. What is your brand for? What need state are shoppers trying to meet? How can you help them? Why might they go to your competitors instead?

Explore and understand shopper missions

Shopper missions are the occasions in which you are genuinely relevant to an individual customer. For example, a specific supermarket shopper mission could be shopping for a romantic meal for two.

Alternatively, other shoppers might be doing the weekly big shop. By identifying and then then splitting those missions by need states you can build better shopper marketing responses to the needs of real shoppers, really shopping to meet real needs.

Go beyond ‘second guessing’ what's important to traditional segments and build effective engagements for shoppers on specific missions and meet their need states in-store and online.

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Customer missions, once identified, can then be grouped more effectively. For example, there are those missions that you know are common in your sector and that you are servicing well. Then there are the missions you'd like to become more associated with.

Conduct some meaningful shopper need states research and you'll discover how effectively you meet some shopper missions and how poorly you address others. You may well also discover missions that are unique to you.

In summary, investing in better understanding shopper missions and need states is a proven way to grow brands and sustainably drive businesses forwards.

Something to think about?

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About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

If you think there is value in this article then please, please share it, thank you.

Phillip Adcock

Phillip Adcock CMRS
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

Phillips Signature

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