Market Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning: “The Strategic Marketing Formula”
Market segmentation is a marketing strategy that helps marketers identify and segment their audience, target their market, and position their products and services to achieve a desired goal (i.e. visibility, exposure, behaviour change, and revenue).
Segmentation involves dividing an overall target market into subsets of consumers, businesses, or countries that have, or are perceived to have, common needs, interests, and priorities. Marketers then design and implement strategies to target them. Organizations may offer different products and services to different target markets, and develop customized strategies and tactics corresponding to the specific demand and attributes of the target segment.
A target market is a select group of potential or current consumers, which a business decides to aim its marketing and advertising strategies at in order to sell a product or service. Researching, identifying and qualifying a target market is one of the first steps in developing a coherent marketing strategy. Knowing the needs, behaviours and characteristics of the target market, helps organizations understand how to tailor their marketing messages, promotions, communications and outreach strategy, as well as their sales efforts.
For example, in the case of the Curved Park Bench (image on this page) – while the image was taken in Japan, the bench appeals to far more people around the globe than the Japanese. Additionally, this bench can appeal to male and female gardeners who appreciate a visual aesthetic (further subdivided by country, purchasing power (cost of bench – whether do-it-yourself, off-the-shelf or custom-built), it might appeal to senior citizens who desire an interesting place to sit (i.e. that is a bit longer than usual benches, or offers different views), or to the city-dweller who sees it as modern art with a functional twist. Each one of these is a valid target market.
“Positioning strategies are generally used to differentiate the brand from its competitors, however, the positioning strategy needs to be flexible so it can adapt to changes in the external environment. The strategies that businesses develop need to be simple; multiple concepts may confuse the customers and weaken the effectiveness of the strategy. Using a unique brand name that reflects the vision and objectives of the business will allow for a superior competitive position. This will help businesses secure financial returns from the targeted market. The three techniques used in positioning include brand, product and price. The combination of these will contribute to a successful positioning strategy.” 
Positioning is a marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position, relative to competing brands, in the mind of the customer. Organizations emphasize distinguishing features of their brand (what it is, what it does and how, etc.) or they may try to create a suitable image that represents what the brand stands for (inexpensive or premium, utilitarian or luxurious, entry-level or high-end, etc.).
The purpose of this learning pathway is to help you:
- define aspects of a segmentation, targeting and positioning strategy
- apply principles of market segmentation to segment a broad market into distinct customer segments
- identify needs, behaviours and characteristics of different target markets
- explain why products are positioned differently