Market Segmentation: Defining Your Target Market & Tools To Help

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One important decision that marketers must face is determining who they are going to direct their messaging to. Segmentation is a great way to narrow in on a target audience and define the right group of individuals.

What is Segmentation?

Segmentation focuses on breaking large audiences into smaller, more defined groups. By doing so, a business can better craft their marketing strategies to suit this specific group’s needs. Segmentation results in more efficient use of marketing resources and a more impactful message. A company is able to make their message more appealing, relatable, and meaningful when they know who exactly they are appealing to. Further, they aren’t wasting resources by serving their message to an irrelevant audience (Kokemuller, n.d.).

An audience can be segmented by three main differentiating factors.

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Geographics

Demographics include age and lifecycle, gender, generation, income level, education, and family life stage. Demographics group individuals by factors that can determine their specific wants and needs. It is also primarily based on statistical data (Eaton, 2018).

Psychographics include individual’s habits (including spending), hobbies, values, goals and aspirations, and personality traits. Psychographics help businesses gain more insight into their customers to better understand their behavior and needs. You can gather this data by analyzing your existing customers, your competitor’s customers, or website analytics (Meredith, 2013).

Geographics define an audience by a geographic group. These groups can be nations, regions, countries, states, cities, neighborhoods, or zipcodes. Geographic segmentation helps businesses serve their messaging to areas with a higher concentration of their defined audience (Eaton, 2018).

Tools to Define Target Market

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Ok, so now you know what segmentation is and why it matters, but how do you go about narrowing your audience?

Fortunately, there are tools available to help you define your target audience.

The first one is Claritas PRIZM Premier. This tool “combines demographic, consumer behavior, and geographic data to help marketers find and engage their customers and prospects” (Claritas, n.d., para 1). PRIZM Premier includes 68 distinct segments with different needs, behaviors, and lifestyles. This tool allows the user to search for segments based on age, income level, urbanization, life stage, and household composition. You can even use the Zip Code Look-Up to find detailed information about consumers in a particular geographic area (Claritas, n.d.).

Gathering more detailed insights about your target audience will help your company craft more detailed ads that will better appeal to your ideal customer. The information obtained from Claritas can be incorporated into your marketing plan to create a campaign with convincing messaging, that is served on the proper media channels, and is focused in the right geographic area.

The next tool is VALS Framework. This tool segments groups based on their primary motivations and resources. Groups are given a questionnaire and are then categorized into eight segments based on their answers (SRICBI, 2006).

Primary motivations provide insights into why consumers buy the products, experiences, and services they do. Motivations include ideals, achievements, and self-expression. This information can help businesses determine what motivates consumers to act (SRICBI, 2006).

Resources give insights into individuals’ urge to consume goods and services. This factor focuses more on aspects like innovativeness, impulsiveness, vanity, intellectualism, and self-confidence (SRICBI, 2006).

VALS can be incorporated into a marketing plan to create a more effective strategy. Based on the consumer characteristics, behaviors, and personality traits, a business can determine what motivates their target audience and incorporate that into their strategy.  VALS shows companies why consumers act the way they do. By learning this, a company can craft more appealing ads and messages that better suit their target audience’s needs (SRICBI, 2006).

Targeting too broad of an audience can result in weak messaging and wasted resources. Refining your audience by narrowing the demographic, psychographic, or geographic scope can result in a more effective marketing plan. Claritas PRIZM Premier and VALS Framework are two great resources to help you begin your segmentation.

Have you narrowed down your audience? Do you feel confident about it? If you haven’t, what’s causing your delay?









Claritas. (n.d.). PRIZM Premier. Retrieved from

Eaton, M. (2018). Segmentation. Retrieved from

Kokemuller, N. (n.d.). Purpose & Benefits of Segmentation. Retrieved from

Meredith, A. (2013). How to use psychographics in your marketing: A beginners guide. Retrieved from

SRI Consulting Business Intelligence. (2006). The VALS Segments. Retrieved from

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