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Building Empathy & Buy-In for Your Market Segmentation

taking photo of individuals in a market segmentationEvery year we conduct over 100 segmentation illuminations for some of the world's top brands. Whether it’s breathing life into an existing market segmentation to reflect the changing cultural landscape, or creating a segmentation from scratch for an emerging audience, we know how to make sure the segmentation isn’t just made, but used.

We know that not everyone speaks the language of data, but we, as humans, all speak in stories. In a nutshell, that’s what qualitatively illuminating a market segmentation does: turn important and complex data into clear, powerful stories that speak to the human in all of us and inspire us to take action.

Creative methodologies for illuminating segments from your market segmentation

Illuminations bridge the gap between quantitative data points (the who, what, where and when) by answering the all-important why. We know that target segment A, skews younger, is likely to own a dog and thinks it’s important to buy local so we can make an educated guess about what leads them to these behaviors, but do we really know? Why do they believe X, do Y, and strive for Z? To get these answers, we need to encourage real humans in the segment to open up, be introspective, and think creatively. Which means we need to think creatively, too.

Understand the context. We don’t look at data in a vacuum. We deep dive into the category, brand and segmentation data. It’s important to ask questions, generate hypotheses, and identify areas to expand knowledge and fill in the gaps even before activity design.

Get distance to see clearly. People are more willing to let us in when they remove themselves from their everyday. We build frameworks that construct new realities to get respondents to confront their values, mindsets and behaviors from a fresh, creative (and less judgmental) lens. Why ask home improvement segments about their latest DIY projects when you can ask them to create their own home improvement reality show that lets us into the highs and lows of their journey?

Exercise your brain in new ways. We have a toolbox of cognitive techniques that help people reflect on situations and problems differently. From a Mad Libs-type exercise to Cribs Closet Edition videos and Chutes & Ladders journey mapping, we help people share their authentic selves and stories through atypical expression.

Approaches for using market segmentation data to shape segment storytelling

The average person can recall, at most, a set of seven digits. What about the lyrics to a song? A favorite movie? By telling more holistic stories supplemented with real sensorial multi-media alongside quantitative proof points, we give your organization both inspiration and belief in your target segments. They’re no longer just a number – they’re a muse. How do we build segment stories that span the big picture of who your segments are while also offering more granular, meaningful “nuggets” directly related to your business?

Broaden the frame. No one wants to be put in a box. We start broad and get to know segments holistically, exploring their lifestyles, long-held beliefs and cultural context, which shape their attitudes and behaviors within specific categories.

Highlight the proof points. We merge quantitative and qualitative insights in a perfect balance of beautiful detail supported by measured validation, so you can get all the segment intricacies and not worry if it holds true on a larger scale.

Let them speak for themselves. Real human stories bring insights to life in a way that data can’t. Rather than just “interpreting” what “respondents” say, we embed their voices, faces and words in illuminations, so your team can truly visualize and absorb your target segments.

Compare and contrast. Illuminations dissect similarities and differences uncovered in the quantitative segmenting, so we can further define and differentiate your target segments, leaving less ambiguity.

“Selling” your market segmentation illumination internally

A market segmentation is only impactful if people use it. Illuminations paint pictures for easy recall, build empathy that resonates, and offer strategy that gives a clear path forward. Does a story matter if there’s no one there to truly listen? How do we get your stakeholders to absorb, not just hear?

Build empathy. Connect with the person, not the segment. Human-centered stories make it easy for stakeholders to understand each segment’s needs, motivations and challenges, so they can make business decisions that win.

See the future. Because illuminations move from what to why, we have the ability to understand future segment perceptions and behaviors, helping your product team create new products to fill unmet needs or your marketing team to build campaigns that truly resonate.

Spread the word. Segment illuminations should live beyond the confines of a PowerPoint. In fact, the most successful illuminations make sharing easy, fun and interactive. Whether it’s an infographic that clearly defines and differentiates each segment or a robust microsite that lets your teams explore videos, photos and insights from each segment in detail, illuminations only stick when they live on beyond a deck. Market segmentations aren’t static, check-off-the-box structures. They’re as fluid and ever-evolving as the people in them. With these segmentation illumination strategies, you can evolve and grow alongside your target segments by revisiting and continuing to build their unique stories, and embedding a deeper human connection between you and your segments.

This perspective was co-authored by Tiana Sahadeo, Senior Research Manager on our qualitative team.

 

About the Author

Holly has been working in qualitative research for almost ten years, with a focus in online communities and strategic storytelling. She has worked on segmentations ranging everything from newly emerging subscription-based skincare brands to quick service restaurants and B2B tech companies. A storyteller at heart, Holly applies a holistic approach to her analytical skills, utilizing proprietary data, industry trends and expert knowledge to contextualize data with a consultative lens, ensuring every insight is action-oriented.

Profile Photo of Holly Caruso