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Segmentation Targeting and Positioning Approaches


Segmentation targeting and positioning are marketing approaches that are used by marketers towards achieving positive outcomes from a certain market depending on the consumer behavior that is characterized by that market. Before comparing these 3 forms it is important first to identify and define each of them in comparison to the other.

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Segmentation is described as the ‘aggregation of prospective buyers into distinctive groups with similar characteristics.” (Kotler & Armstrong 1993:53). Therefore the market is identified into subsets of buyers who demonstrate similar buying behavior. Across the global markets are variably made up of buyers numbering billions who have distinctive needs and behavior.

The term segmentation has the sole purpose of matching up buyers or consumers with similar buying behavior. When a particular market is grouped in such a manner then it is called a segment.

The following diagram shows an example of market segmentation.


The above pie chart is a good example of how segmentation information is represented. Often times the segments are numbered or named in certain ways.

The process of segmentation has as its basis; contains criteria that help evaluate the segment.

  • How viable is the segment? Can we make a profit from the said segment?
  • How accessible is the segment? Can we easily access this particular market?
  • How measurable is the segment? Are there readily available data describing its potentiality?

In any marketing approach, the market has to be broken up into subgroups for it to be serviced better. If this is not done it will be quite futile for the organization gets into the market without really knowing who and what the consumers want. Segmentation, therefore, enables the organization to divide up a market so that it can attach to the market in a more focused way. After dividing or segmenting up the market depending on consumer wants and preferences the organization now moves to the next level – targeting (Kotler & Armstrong 1993:82).

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After segmenting a market the next important step in the marketing approach is targeting. Targeting is the actual process of going directly to the segment that has been identified and selecting the consumers that you desire to serve.

Budgeting decisions are conceptualized in what is termed a targeted strategy which includes:

  • Deciding on which segment is to be targeted
  • How many products or services are going to be offered
  • Which products or services are going to be offered in which segments?

In the targeting process, 3 steps are followed and include market Segmentation, choice of target and product positioning.

The strategy to be adopted for targeting is usually influenced by certain Variables that include:

  1. the maturity of the market
  2. How diverse and the needs and preferences of the consumers
  3. how strong the competition is
  4. what volumes of sales are required to turn a profit

Therefore targeting can either be selective or extensive. If it is selective such strategies as focus, specialization of the market and niche strategy are usually put into use. However, when the targeting is extensive certain concepts are employed which could include product specialization, full coverage of mass marketing. Therefore unlike segmentation, targeting narrows down the market. After the targeting process is complete the next and final process is positioning (Kotler & Armstrong 1993:90).


Positioning is described by marketers as the “battle of the minds”. This is the process within which the marketer or organization seeks to impress the consumer by creating a unique image of its brands or services. This is where the consumer perception is roused towards liking the product being offered.

Proactive organizations go through a comprehensive process that includes:

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  1. defining or describing the product market where the brand is expected to compete by describing the various buyers/consumers involved
  2. Identifying the dimensions/attributes that describe a product
  3. Researching and collecting samples of consumer perception regarding specific products together with the relevant attributes
  4. Determine the popularity/awareness of each product
  5. Define the location of the product within the market space
  6. Define and determine the targets market’s ideal vector which is the combination of attributes that is preferred by the consumers.
  7. Critically examine the relationship that exists between the product positions to that of the ideal vector.
  8. Position

Bases of segmentation

Bases of segmentation is a term used to describe the basic dimensions that determine how a heterogeneous or a diverse market can be grouped into a relatively homogeneous market on the premises of geographic, demographic, behaviorist or psychographic categorization. In many cases segmentation is widely thought of as an art rather than a science and it is important to find the variables that define the specific segments. The variables that are chosen should be in line with the needs and preferences of the customers that are identified through market research.

The bases of segmentation are commonly used for profiling the segments with the set market. These profiles include:

  • Geographic. In this situation, the base is determined by the geographical location of the market for example which region of the country, is rural or urban.
  • Demographic. This variable looks and divides the market according to age sex, family size, and level of income, level of education, religion, nationality race or tribe.
  • Psychographic. This variable dwells more on such important aspects of the market like the social class, the personality type of the individuals, and the lifestyles existent in that particular market.
  • Behavioral. This variable looks generally at issues that mainly dwell on aspects like the usage of the product or service, where it can be light, medium or heavy users. It also looks at brand loyalty and the type of users within the said segment (Kotler & Armstrong 1993:98).


P. Kotler, G. Armstrong (1993) Marketing, An Introduction, Prentice-Hall. p 45- 167 (Kotler & Armstrong 1993).

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