What is INDUSTRIAL MARKET SEGMENTATION? What does INDUSTRIAL MARKET SEGMENTATION mean? INDUSTRIAL MARKET SEGMENTATION meaning - INDUSTRIAL MARKET SEGMENTATION definition - INDUSTRIAL MARKET SEGMENTATION explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
Industrial market segmentation is a scheme for categorizing industrial and business customers to guide strategic and tactical decision-making, especially in sales and marketing. While government agencies and industry associations use standardized segmentation schemes for statistical surveys, most businesses create their own segmentation scheme to meet their particular needs.
While similar to consumer market segmentation, segmenting industrial markets is different and more challenging because of greater complexity in buying processes, buying criteria, and the complexity of industrial products and services themselves. Further complications include role of financing, contracting, and complementary products/services.
The goal for every industrial market segmentation scheme is to identify the most significant differences among current and potential customers that will influence their purchase decisions or buying behavior, while keeping the scheme as simple as possible (Occam's Razor). This will allow the industrial marketer to differentiate their prices, programs, or solutions for maximum competitive advantage.
Webster describes segmentation variables as “customer characteristics that relate to some important difference in customer response to marketing effort”. (Webster, 2003) He recommends the following three criteria:
1. Measurability, “otherwise the scheme will not be operational” according to Webster. While this would be an absolute ideal, its implementation can be next to impossible in some markets. The first barrier is, it often necessitates field research, which is expensive and time-consuming. Second, it is impossible to get accurate strategic data on a large number of customers. Third, if gathered, the analysis of the data can be a daunting task. These barriers lead most companies to use more qualitative and intuitive methods in measuring customer data, and more persuasive methods while selling, hoping to compensate for the gap of accurate data measurement.
2. Substantiality, i.e. “the variable should be relevant to a substantial group of customers”. The challenge here is finding the right size or balance. If the group gets too large, there is a risk of diluting effectiveness; and if the group becomes too small, the company will lose the benefits of economies of scale. Also, as Webster rightly states, there are often very large customers that provide a large portion of a suppliers business. These single customers are sometimes distinctive enough to justify constituting a segment on their own. This scenario is often observed in industries which are dominated by a small number of large companies, e.g. aircraft manufacturing, automotive, turbines, printing machines and paper machines.
3. Operational relevance to marketing strategy. Segmentation should enable a company to offer the suitable operational offering to the chosen segment, e.g. faster delivery service, credit-card payment facility, 24-hour technical service, etc. This can only be applied by companies with sufficient operational resources. For example, just-in-time delivery requires highly efficient and sizeable logistics operations, whereas supply-on-demand would need large inventories, tying down the supplier’s capital. Combining the two within the same company - e.g. for two different segments - would stretch the company’s resources.