I’ve been involved in several branded segmentation approaches and many ad-hoc segmentation studies over the last 20 years and when I meet new people client-side, often by referral, they usually come around to asking me why they hear segmentation is brilliant for some companies and not seen to be very valuable for others.

I haven’t found many stakeholders actively resisting attempts to have research input into better targeting and better comprehension of their market landscape, but I have witnessed how detached some people can be on occasion and as a result, I’ve come to the view that companies who value segmentation have generally fixed a missing link that exists for those whose segmentation experience has been less positive.  This missing link lies in having a structured process that secures early engagement, indeed ownership, of the study amongst key stakeholders’ WAY BEFORE one gets down the line into back-end analysis and reporting.

To me a stakeholder is anyone who will use the findings in their daily tactical and strategic work.  The more collaborative we, as researchers, are with these users, the more we learn about their business issues and the more relevant we can design the study and its content in terms of phrases, feelings and settings used. This early engagement gets all the topics, any previous knowledge and the real business issues truly out on the table and leads to an emphasis on problem solving rather than technical explanations and justifications.

Working collaboratively from the start, also ensures that any key segments, themes and market drivers are appropriately named and furthermore that emergent recommendations are believable, uncomplicated and actionable.

I’ve found each company has its own unique way to go about this “go-to-market” or “stage gate” process, but for me, the following steps are usually part of the best practice towards laying the right foundations for segment-based knowledge and marketing leadership:-

  1. Engage stakeholders early and understand how they want to use the information to make which decisions
  2. Keep stakeholder engagement throughout e.g. by having specific brand and segment workshops before going into strategic planning meetings with the most senior stakeholders/the board.
  3. Understand the overarching competitive landscape, market drivers and any important trends/insights.
  4. Understand demand (needs) and the size of customer target groups and segments
  5. Understand supply – the delivery of brands on these needs
  6. Hold the data in an integrated (online) analysis tool
  7. Be able to run, and understand, scenarios (without further primary research, cost and time)