Four things every brand should demand from a segmentation

Will UllsteinDirector of Account Management
November 23, 2016, 9:04 AM GMT+0

Audience segmentation is one of the foundation stones of any insight and marketing strategy.

The need to understand who you are targeting, how to reach them effectively with messages that resonate and propositions that appeal, is vital to the success of any business. Without it, a business is flying blind and will waste marketing spend and resources.

Most brands might be confident they have a clear idea who their audience is. However, the chance is that they could know a lot more, and make use of sophisticated technology that permits a new and unparalleled level of understanding and way of reaching their target market.

Recently, big brands such as Kingsmill and M&S have found themselves caught out by changing consumer behaviour – leaving them treading water instead of making waves.

Technology has affected many other household names as well. Sales of Pampers have suffered since savvy customers switched to bulk-buying unbranded nappies more cheaply and conveniently online. HMV floundered as music shifted from physical to digital formats, and the likes of Ford aren’t only up against Toyota and Hyundai any more, but also facing off against the likes of Google, Uber, and Apple which are looking to change the automotive sector in a variety of ways.

Brands need to know how consumers are changing as they are changing. The only way to know this is by keeping your segments updated on a rolling basis.

With a new world of connected data at your disposal there’s no longer any need to base your marketing activities on stale and outdated information. Read on to discover four key things you should demand from your segmentation to gain a better and deeper understanding of your audience.

Staying consistently current

Traditional segmentations are a significant piece of work and a substantial investment. As a result they tend to be updated on a two to five year cycle. Yet big marketing investment decisions are based on this old data, and that’s not good enough because campaigns won’t resonate and the new propositions won’t appeal.

For example, financial institutions working off a segmentation constructed in 2012 won’t know customer attitudes towards contactless payment, changes in demand for mobile banking, or how customers feel about new challengers in the market such as Atom and Monzo. There are similar examples across every sector.

So brands need to ensure data used for audience mapping stays current, building ever more granular and colourful descriptions of your segments. In doing so, this means your segmentation is never out of date and always flexible to changing circumstances.

Working from a single source of insight

Brands rely on many different groups of people to help keep existing customers engaged and to acquire new ones. But sometimes the task of working with a range of insight, planning and marketing teams across agencies is complicated by them working from different data tools.

At best, working from multiple insight sources means some detail gets lost in translation, at worst it creates multiple versions of the truth about an audience. As a result, plans, campaigns and propositions won’t resonate as they should, and time and effort is spent by all those involved trying to reconcile a complex and multi-truth world.

By having a single, up-to-date, accessible and easy to share source of insight that everyone involved in insight, planning and marketing can scrutinise at the same time, you’ll reduce friction and create a joined up and consistent view of your audiences.

Expanding your knowledge while improving data quality

Consumer behaviours are changing all the time. Five years ago few people in Britain had never heard of – let alone used – the likes of Netflix, Uber, or Snapchat. Now, they are an everyday part of many of our lives. And how these innovators are changing lives has a massive impact across sectors. In order to see round these corners you can’t simply understand segments based on a narrow view of attributes collected via a boring 30 minute usage and attitude questionnaire. Moreover, you have to question the quality of data collected via a survey of that length as well.

Insight technology exists that allows brands to collect tens of thousands of variables about their audiences via high quality bite size surveys. Imagine a situation where you know almost everything there is to know about your target audience, for example which: bands, food, celebrities and TV shows they like and enjoy, what financial products they hold, pets they adore, aspirations they have, life events they have just been through or are about to go through, how they voted in the last election, sports they enjoy, shops they use regularly, apps they play with and websites they visit. You would be able to describe your audience in unparalleled depth and richness, unlocking huge potential.

Moreover, collecting all of this data via many different insight vehicles means a step change in data quality. Better data equals better insight, better insight equals better decision making, resulting in better financial performance.

Utilising sophisticated activation

Traditional activation tools have inevitably meant the tail is wagging the dog. Established activation methods have predominantly used hard, easily known variables such as basic demographics, rather than preferred “softer” descriptors.

Therefore, while you might build an attitudinal or behavioural segmentation, up till now there has been no easy way to translate your “Savvy Samantha” or “Grumpy Gus” into an accessible target audience. Hence, if brands can only target based on simple demographics, then the tail ends up wagging the dog and segmentations are reduced to variables used to be able to activate them.

With the rise of ever more sophisticated targeting solutions, attitudinal and behavioural data can be accommodated into media plans and buying. As a result brands can build an attitude or behaviour based segmentation and activate it with confidence.

YouGov has worked with a number of global businesses including RBS and HSBC to more effectively segment their audiences and connect the data that informs their marketing communications.

Brands’ existing segmentations are plugged into YouGov’s dynamic and connected data cube and combined to paint a richer and fuller picture of the audiences they’re interested in, including those that may be niche or harder to reach. Or alternatively, start from scratch and build your segmentation from the very beginning.

Contact Will Ullstein to find out how dynamic segmentation can help your brand.