Segmentation by progress sought

Market segmentation is typically performed through product features or market demographics (age, sex, postcode etc).

Here’s a sobering comment from Christensen (author of The Innovator’s Dilemma – which gave us disruptive innovation – and Jobs to be Done theory):

The great Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt used to tell his students, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” Every marketer we know agrees with Levitt’s insight. Yet these same people segment their markets by type of drill and by price point…

…the prevailing methods of segmentation that budding managers learn in business schools and then practice in the marketing departments of good companies are actually a key reason that new product innovation has become a gamble in which the odds of winning are horrifyingly low.

Christensen, C. M., Cook, S., Hall, T. (2005) “Marketing Malpractice” Harvard Business Review 


Segmenting progress seekers

It also leads us to an improved view of market segmentation. No longer are we segmenting based on product features or demographics of seekers. Now we segment on combinations of functional, non-functional and contextual progress sought. And likely, in this example, we’ll find seekers whose non-functional progress is to enjoy the scenery instead of being direct. Leading us to a different set of propositions.

Christensen’s work on jobs to be done theory is well worth reading. The main example there is about milkshakes in a fast food restaurant. And how they are “hired” for different tasks in the morning commuter rush compared to the late afternoon spend some time with a child task. That, and Urwin’s similar jobs to be done approach, both map to our concept of progress.

Add to the discussion…

%d bloggers like this: