The marketing secret? It can be said that Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning, and Positioning Engineering (STPI) is the big secret behind the marketing strategy of consumer-oriented brands that undoubtedly lead in this 21st century. This reality prevails over the utopia of «one-to-one» marketing.
Segmentation is not just a division of the market based on sociodemographic or socioeconomic characteristics of consumers; rather, it’s a division of the population, not market segmentation.
How Are Customer Segments Created?
The process of segment creation, aided by tools like «datamining,» involves choosing exclusively those base variables or criteria that will determine differences in consumer behavior. Most of the time, these segmentation criteria are not exclusive but combinations of criteria.
Combining all levels of each base criterion in market segmentation can result in multiple possible segments (primary or descriptive segments). This is where «contra-segmentation» processes (a market research technique in segmentation that helps discover the ideal combination of strategic segments from primary or descriptive segments) can help solve the puzzle of finding a strategic segmentation.
Finding a strategic segmentation is not just a matter of methodology (contra-segmentation) or technology (datamining); the marketing professional needs to validate that the found segments generate a differentiated behavioral response, are identifiable, measurable (their size can be known), profitable, and accessible (through marketing actions).
If segmentation is validated, «profiling» becomes essential. This involves defining the segments found in all the necessary characteristics to access the same segments using criteria that were not used in the segmentation process.
Choosing which segment or segments the brand should target in the coming years is what we call targeting, and this will depend mainly on available resources, the company’s brand strategy, existing competition, and the market’s maturity. Choosing valuable segments must make the brand profitable.
What Does Positioning Engineering Involve?
Regardless of the targeting strategy chosen by the brand, the next step in this STPI process is designing the positioning strategy. The goal is to occupy a privileged position in the minds of consumers who are part of our target. Designing the brand image and developing a suitable marketing mix are required to modify our brand’s perception compared to the competition, either in benefits or attributes (tangible or intangible), and to gain the desired mental position over the chosen target.
To complete the «virtuous» STPI circle, the next essential step is positioning engineering. Starting from the current positioning, future brand positioning strategies are defined based on simulation strategies and projection processes. The path the brand should take in each value segment to capture the desired potential must be determined. It shows how to defend the position against competition attacks.
Strategic market research must be a necessary tool for achieving marketing goals. It should guide the strategy and not be a trivial service turned into a «commodity.» Market research must add value to the company through solutions, and these can only be based on a deep analysis perspective and the application of the most advanced multivariate techniques.