Looking back on high school I’m sure we can all remember the different groups or ‘stereotypes’ that were used to classify each of us. Although we may associate the terms ‘jock’, ‘cheerleader’ and ‘geek’ with cheesy American high school movies, the reality is we were all judged according to superficial characteristics; the people we hung out with, the grades we achieved, the clothes we wore and the boys (or girls) we dated.
We like to believe that we have left stereotypes, cliques and cliche’s back in high school, however I have come to the realisation that this is simply not the case. We will always be reduced to one particular group or another based on our characteristics, behaviour or lifestyle; if you are a vegetarian, you are an environmentally-crazed hipster, if you are a middle-aged business woman, you are a workaholic and if you are a student from Gen Y, you are lazy with a short attention span and an unjustified belief of entitlement.
Although perhaps not quite on the same scale of scrutiny as we received in high school– we are all constantly being categorised by each other, and by brands. Brands have been using consumer segmentation to assist in their marketing strategies for decades – dividing customers into groups based on similar characteristics according to factors such as demographics, psychographics, lifestyle, purchasing behaviour and product usage.
Pre-communication revolution brand communication was reduced to mass media channels such as television radio and print, business meetings were conducted face-to-face, telephones were used to gossip and changing rooms were a normal part of the purchasing process. However with the rise of the digital age, we are seeing dramatic changes in consumer behaviour where consumers are continuing to shift their media communication social and shopping activities online at an alarming rate as discussed in Mckinsey and Company’s article iConsumer.
Therefore as marketers surely it only makes sense that we rethink the way in which we are segmenting the market?
Despite such drastic changes in consumer behaviour and the development of the iConsumer, many marketers have made little to no change in their segmentation practices.
Hodis, Sriramachandramurthy and Sashittal discuss in their journal article Interact with me on my terms: a four segment Facebook engagement framework for marketers discuss the importance of actionable consumer engagement in the digital space.
They propose four key profile segments to help marketers target their Facebook consumers and create marketing strategies accordingly;
Perhaps Hodis, Sriramachandramurthy and Sashittal are onto something… perhaps we need to incorporate online behaviour and usage patterns into our segmentation strategies of digital consumers in order to enhance our marketing strategies and in turn, increase communication, interaction, preference and loyalty. Highly specific segmentation driven by digital behaviour may just be the key in assisting marketers to properly utilise online platforms and understand the motivations behind, and connections between online communication, social activities and consumerism.
It’s true that we probably wouldn’t see jocks dancing around with pom pom’s, IT geeks kicking a football or cheerleaders playing world of warcraft… SO why are we analysing
digital consumers according to criteria selected for traditional marketing platforms?
So my lazy fellow Gen Y’s, what are your thoughts?
- As marketers do we need to incorporate digital consumer characteristics and behaviour into our segmentation strategies?
- Are our customer analysis and targeting strategies lagging behind the times?
- What are other ways we can segment digital consumers according to their online behaviour?