Carve your own niche - the secrets of segmentation

17 Dec 2003|Added Value

Niching (pronounced knee-shing) may sound like a province in China, but don’t be fooled by its subtle-sounding innocence. Niching is the latest weapon of mass distraction in a brand’s marketing arsenal and is more pinpoint accurate than any smart bomb. 

In fact the whole thing about niching is accurately targeting an ever-decreasing segment of the market; matching specific brands more accurately with their specific and desired consumer.  We’re talking purity here, and with purity comes less wastage; of time, marketing effort, man hours, and more especially advertising budget, which translates directly into increased profitability. Interested?

The message is clear and simple, if you want to increase your business, decrease your target zone and refine your range.  Those brands that are still trying to be all things to all people are wandering around the marketplace like happy-hour desperadoes trying to find a date.

Witness the global demise of the once dominant department store.  Mighty Macy’s and Bloomingdales, certainly Stuttafords, yes even Harrods, have all been haemorrhaging bottom line profits for years and those one-stop family stores now only work at filling station level as the big names have been forced to sublet their excruciatingly expensive floor space to the concept of a-store-within-a-store.  Department stores are the dinosaurs of the twenty-first century however potent their brand currency once was. 

Which isn’t to say that the brand is dead; it’s simply undergoing a process of reinvention if not full blown reincarnation.  Calling in the support of trusted sub-brands and alliance brands to help freshen the place up a bit, segment the pie and steer customer choice.

Niching works on a variety of different levels as brand consultants Added Value testify.  “Segmentation is essentially about understanding how a market works and how choices are made,” says Charles Broome Added Value’s CEO.  “It can revolutionise markets and create explosive growth by showing marketers how to be more competitive and how to slice the market in different ways to identify new brand opportunities”. Think four-wheeled-drive cars, Gilette razors for women, and one of the most tightly-segmented market sectors – magazines.

“By tapping into the market from different angles” adds Added Value’s Broome, “you can check what products are bought by whom, for what reason, on what occasion and from what places” and from that knowledge you can more accurately apply positive segmentation. “This ultimately enables marketers to unlock real brand growth which is pretty exciting stuff”.

That whole four-by-four market was borne of an outdoorsy culture and has dominated global fashion and everything else for almost a decade now.  One minute you could go into a shoe store and buy a decent pair of brogues, the next minute the only shoes you could buy – anywhere – were clumsy great hiking boots.  Even so-called ‘dress shoes’ now come with a three inch thick hiking sole; illustrating how one simple segmentation (cars) can lead to a potent trend that permeates other markets – footwear, clothing, accessories.  Notice even how cell-phones now come in rubberised Kevlar-casing that can stop a bullet and withstand a drop from the top of Mont Blanc.  Which, let’s face it, is pretty handy when heading for Sandton in your spanking brand new Pajero.

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