MARKET SEGMENTATION, TARGETING AND POSITIONING
Choosing the Number of Markets to Target
Henry Ford proved that mass marketing can work—at least for a while. Mass marketing is also efficient because you don’t have to tailor any part of the offering for different groups of consumers, which is more work and costs more money. The problem is that buyers are not all alike. If a competitor comes along and offers these groups a product (or products) that better meet their needs, you will lose business.
Most firms tailor their offerings in one way or another to meet the needs of different segments of customers. Because these organizations don’t have all their eggs in one basket, they are less vulnerable to competition. Marriott International is an example of a company that operates in multiple market segments. The company has different types of facilities designed to meet the needs of different market segments. Marriott has invested in unique brands so consumers don’t confuse the brand and the brand is not diluted. Some of the Marriott brands and their target markets are as follows:
· Marriott Courtyard. Targeted at over-the-road travelers.
· Ritz-Carlton Hotels. Targeted at luxury travelers.
· Marriott Conference Centers. Targeted at businesses hosting small- and midsized meetings.
· Marriott ExecuStay. Targeted at executives needing month-long accommodations.
· Marriott Vacation Clubs. Targeted at travelers seeking to buy timeshares.
A multisegment marketing strategy can allow firms to respond to demographic changes and other trends in markets. For example, the growing number of people too old to travel have the option of moving into one of Marriott’s “Senior Living Services” facilities, which cater to retirees who need certain types of care. A multisegment strategy can also help companies weather an economic downturn by allowing customers to trade up or down among brands and products. Suppose you take a pay cut and can’t afford to stay at Marriott’s Ritz-Carlton hotels anymore. A room at a JW Marriott—the most luxurious of the Marriott-brand hotels but cheaper than the Ritz—is available to you. A multisegment strategy can also help companies deal with the product life cycle issues. If one brand or product is “dying out,” the company has others to compete.
Some firms—especially smaller ones with limited resources—engage in concentrated marketing. Concentrated marketing involves targeting a very select group of customers. Concentrated marketing can be a risky strategy because companies really do have all their eggs in one basket. The auto parts industry is an example. Traditionally, many North American auto parts makers have supplied parts exclusively to auto manufacturers. But when General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and other auto companies experienced a slump in sales following the recession that began in 2008, the auto parts makers found themselves in trouble. Many of them began trying to make and sell parts for wind turbines, aerospace tools, solar panels, and construction equipment (Simon, 2009).
Niche marketing involves targeting an even more select group of consumers. When engaging in niche marketing, a company’s goal is to be a big fish in a small pond instead of a small fish in a big pond1. Some examples of companies operating in niche markets include those shown in below<span style="color:blue"> “Companies That Operate in Niche Markets”</span>.
Table 5.5 Companies That Operate in Niche Markets
Market Share (%)
Tropical fish food
St. Jude Medical Center
Artificial heart valves
Source: José María Manzanedo, “<span style="color:blue">Market Segmentation Strategies. How to Maximize Opportunities on the Potential Market</span>,” February 20, 2005, (accessed December 1, 2009).
Microtargeting, or narrowcasting, is a new effort to isolate markets and target them. It was originally used to segment voters during elections, including the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Microtargeting involves gathering all kinds of data available on people—everything from their tax and phone records to the catalogs they receive. One company that compiles information such as this is Acxiom. For a fee, Acxiom can provide you with a list of Hispanic consumers who own two pets, have caller ID, drive a sedan, buy certain personal care products, subscribe to certain television cable channels, read specified magazines, and have income and education levels within a given range (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2010). Clearly, microtargeting has ethical implications and privacy issues.
Targeting Global Markets
Firms that compete in the global marketplace can use any combination of the segmenting strategies or none at all. A microcosm of the targeting strategies used in global markets is shown in <span style="color:blue">Figure 5.9 “Targeting Strategies Used in Global Markets”</span>. If you’re a seller of a metal like iron ore, you might sell the same product across the entire world via a metals broker. The broker would worry about communicating with customers around the world and devising different marketing campaigns for each of them.
Figure 5.9 Targeting Strategies Used in Global Markets
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Most companies, however, tailor their offerings to some extent to meet the needs of different buyers around the world. For example, Mattel sells Barbie dolls all around the world—but not the same Barbie. Mattel has created thousands of different Barbie offerings designed to appeal to all kinds of people in different countries.
Pizza Hut has franchises around the world, but its products, packaging, and advertising are tailored to different markets. Squid is a popular topping in Asia. Companies tailor products not only for different countries but also for different customers in different countries. For example, Procter & Gamble’s China division now offers products designed for different local market segments in that country. P&G has an advanced formulation of laundry detergent for the premium segment, a modified product for the second (economy) segment, and a very basic, inexpensive product created for the third (rural) segment (Sewell, 2009).
Sellers are increasingly targeting consumers in China, Russia, India, and Brazil because of their fast-growing middle classes. Take the cosmetics maker Avon. Avon’s largest market is no longer the United States. It is Brazil. Brazilians are extremely looks-conscious and increasingly able to afford cosmetic products as well as plastic surgery (Wheatley, 2010). So attractive are these countries that firms are changing how they develop goods and services, too. “Historically, American companies innovated in the U.S. and took those products abroad,” says Vjay Govindarahan, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Now, says Govindarahan, companies are creating low-cost products to capture large markets in developing countries and then selling them in developed countries. Acer’s $250 laptop and General Electric’s ultrainexpensive $1,000 electrocardiogram device are examples. The world’s cheapest car, the $2,500 Tata Nano, was developed for India but is slated to be sold in the United States (McGinn, 2010).
Other strategies for targeting markets abroad include acquiring (buying) foreign companies or companies with large market shares there. To tap the Indian market, Kraft made a bid to buy the candymaker Cadbury, which controls about one-third of India’s chocolate market. Likewise, to compete against Corona beer, the Dutch brewer Heineken recently purchased Mexico’s Femsa, which makes the beer brands Dos Equis, Tecate, and Sol (de la Merced & Nicholson, 2010). However, some countries don’t allow foreign firms to buy domestic firms. They can only form partnerships with them. Other regulatory and cultural barriers sometimes prevent foreign firms from “invading” a country. IKEA, the Swedish home-furnishings maker, eventually left Russia because it found it too hard to do business there. By contrast, McDonald’s efforts to expand into Russia have been quite successful. Having saturated other markets, the hamburger chain is hoping to continue to grow by opening hundreds of new stores in the country.