How to Use Qualitative Research
for Market Segmentation

Markets consist of segments.

Market segmentation is the process of identifying segments.

Segments are groups of people with similar qualities. Demographics, product behaviors, and attitudes are examples of qualities. Qualities define, describe, and distinguish segments.

In early stage research, you can conduct market segmentation with exploratory depth interviews and focus groups.

You interview to:

  • Discover and identify segments
  • Learn details about segments
  • Develop products, positioning, and advertising for target segments

Focus your efforts on target segments. Target segments present the best opportunities to produce revenues, profits, and growth. First-rate marketing starts with target segments.

Valuable target segments have the following people.

  • Want or need your product or service
  • Use your product or service
  • Have money to buy your product
  • Buy or heavily influence buying
  • Identify with your positioning
  • Respond to your marketing communications
  • Are easy and cost-effective to reach
  • Are loyal to your brand

Target segments where competition is weak.

Target segments in which you can set up a unique position. Positioning connects with people in target segments. Your positioning is the reason somebody buys your brand and not your competitors’ brands.

Target segments that give you the highest profits.

How to Conduct Market Segmentation

Start with exploratory depth interviews. Interview experts and executives. Include channels – distributors and retailers – and your salespeople in your expert interviews too. Salespeople know prospects and customers.

Then use focus groups. Ask respondents in concept testing focus groups who would use the concept.

And interview product category users. Ask them to describe who uses products.

Behaviors and attitudes about products or services are powerful ways to define and classify segments.

Here are qualities you can use to classify a segment.

  • Who uses the product or service?
  • How they use it?
  • Why they use it?
  • Where they use it?
  • When they use it?
  • Who buys?
  • Attitudes
  • Feelings
  • Perceptions
  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Beliefs
  • How much they pay
  • Media they use
  • Demographics

Once, you’ve identified segments with depth interviews or focus groups, use quantitative surveys or secondary research to size segments.

Warning: do not use qualitative interviews to size segments. That is the job of quantitative segmentation, or suppliers of segment information. But, you may want to consider experts’ opinions about segment size. Get several expert opinions and calculate averages and record ranges, when sizing segments.

Use qualitative research before and after quantitative segmentation studies.

You can use depth interviews or focus group findings to develop topics and dimensions for quantitative segmentation surveys.

After quantitative market segmentation, interview people who typify each segment to gain deeper understanding.

Use qualitative research to identify and understand target segments.

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