Segments, Shmegments

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We are always being given consumer profiles by our clients that have been heavily researched (think multiple binders!) and they paint a picture of who the client considers to be their current customer and who they consider their growth customer.   Sometimes these consumer segments are given clever names or they are named after an anonymous woman (Jane is very popular) and sometimes there are even pictures or cartoons of her.  We dutifully read these and develop the corresponding screeners when we are recruiting for research but I can’t help but think customer segmentation is a messy, messy business. 

Women aren’t well behaved and they don’t obey when you tell them to stay in their little boxes.  If you say she is a Beauty Obsessive, is she allowed to be a shlump on Sundays? If she falls into the segment of being Financially Negligent and she pays her taxes on time will she get the boot?  What about Jane, the overstressed working mother? Does she mess up the numbers when she has a relaxing day?

 This is not to say that segmentation is misguided overall but I do wish that marketers would keep in mind that women can fall into multiple segments all at once and while that doesn’t make forecasting easier it is the truth.  Personally I’d like to see segmentation that allows for more fluidity and flexibility but I do have to point out my favorite segmentation on the web right now – www.oldjewstellingjokes.com.  This is a brilliant site that updates every Thursday with your Uncle Saul (okay, it might not be your uncle but it could be) telling what can sometimes be a bawdy joke. New jokes but the same sort of Catskill type humor.   This site has identified a true segment!  Men just like my dad who can tell a good joke (even if they only have one joke they can remember the punchline to).

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