The segmentation graveyard teems with sorry creatures. Most large organizations – and many small ones – have such a graveyard buried within past market research and strategic plans. Among its disused inhabitants are schemes that:
These pitfalls are not just the domain of the unsophisticated. We once worked with a major medical technology company that had segments defined by a research company which included Overwhelmed (who were dissatisfied along nearly every dimension) and Simplifiers (who were content with everything as-is). What on Earth were they supposed to do with that?
There is a better way. As I explored in a previous Forbes piece, there are several steps to follow to reliably create an actionable segmentation. However, we also often get asked what characteristics define such a segmentation. This piece provides that answer through five simple traits:
These are straightforward traits, but they are found all-too-seldom. Why? Partly, companies resist putting in the spadework to discover Jobs to be Done in a rigorous way. It actually isn’t that much work, but it does require stepping back from preconceptions and having a detailed framework so that fuzzy insights aren’t interpreted through the mental lenses used day-to-day. Another key malady is that people get both confused and bewitched by statistics, often deployed by vendors who wave around fancy terms (e.g. standard deviation) without addressing the key details (e.g. standard deviation is only a valid measure if responses are along a normal Bell Curve, which is very frequently not the case). Insist that vendors focus not on obscure statistical measures but on their everyday meaning, and how that relates to predicting what a segmentation really needs to predict.
Actionable segmentations are definitely within reach. Don’t bury another expensive project. Rather, you can use these five simple tests to validate early-on whether a segmentation is on the road to success or doom. The signposts are clear.