Segmentations: divide and conquer!


What does success look like in the segmentation world? The team at Trinity McQueen have been on many a segmentation journey and have developed a wealth of knowledge along the way. Below are some tips that I have personally found to be the most important in delivering a successful segmentation…


1.       A successful segmentation is built on a strong foundation

The first stage of any segmentation project should be regarded as laying the foundations - getting to know the market, your clients’ business and understanding the needs of key stakeholders as well as their preferred ways of working. Some of the key questions at this stage could include:

  1. What is the market we wish to segment?  
  2. Who is the broad target audience? What is the market profile?
  3. What are the key factors to segment on e.g. spend in the market?
  4.  What would success look like?

2.       Exploring further once the foundation has been built

Every segmentation project is unique; therefore, it is safe to assume that there will be gaps in market knowledge available. To ensure that the segmentation uncovers these gaps it is important to explore your topic of interest further with your audience.  A wide reaching qualitative stage is often the outcome. Home visits, store visits, accompanied dog walking – you name it, we’ve done them all in order to fill those knowledge gaps.

3.       A well scoped and staggered validation stage

Once a strong foundation of knowledge has been established, it’s time to validate the insights.

A couple of elements can help lead to success here:

  1. Create hypotheses to validate – What are the key factors that could drive the segmentation?
  2. Outline the key demographic, attitudinal and behavioural dimensions to capture
  3. Develop statements – Develop statements to capture a range of attitudes and behaviours using a framework to ensure they are easy to understand, relevant, debatable and balanced (e.g. positive and negative statements, emotional and rational statements)
  4. Pre-test statements – this is a great means to reducing questionnaire length and respondent fatigue. Test all statements and then review them to see which are the most debatable and differentiated. The best statements can then be taken forward
  5. Keep it simple – Don’t try to overload the survey, if questions can be asked in a follow up survey then the likelihood is that they will be best placed in a follow up survey. This allows you to focus the survey on the core objective to segment.

4.       Devising the segments

Once the data is available the next stage is creating the segments – many segmentation solutions will be available but as insight specialists it is our job to choose the most suitable solutions. General guidelines here are to:

  1. Generate clear, distinct, differentiated and meaningful customer segments that inform customer focused decisions across the business
  2. Generate a manageable number of segments that are easily communicated and understood by the business (e.g. 5-6)
  3. Create segments that are sufficiently large - to be usable and targetable the segments need to represent a sufficiently large customer group
  4. Be relevant e.g. reflect the current competitor landscape
  5. Be future-proofed: be able to be linked through to other data sources (e.g. Kantar, TGI) through golden questions to enable segments and their behaviour to be tracked

5.       Launching the segments to the business

Last but not least is the launch of the segments to the business.  It is important this is thought about upfront and not left until the last minute.  Put on your comms planning hat for this bit.  There are a variety of ways to communicate a segmentation with impact (pen portraits, videos, segment visits to name a few) but it is good practice to implement a few rules:

  1. Ensure the segment is fully represented e.g. does the communication represent all aspects of the segment, is there a good representation of males and females etc. 
  2. Ensure the segment is engaging – this is a comms piece after all!
  3. Ensure the key differences are identified – the launch should help to pull the segments apart and should certainly not lead to segments merging into one.
  4. Leave your mark – cement the presence of the segments with a leave behind document      - something tangible that stakeholders can ‘play with’ is ideal


Any questions – do get in touch!


Lucy Wetherhill, Associate Director

Chris Handford