Case Study: Needs-Based Segmentation Research
Our Client is a global leader in the paper, packaging, and wood products industry with operations spanning the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Australasia.
As with all commodity markets, our Client wanted to not only differentiate themselves from the competition but also be able to charge more for their products without directly competing on price. Therefore, a market research study was commissioned to gather information on the markets attitudes, behaviour and needs/unmet needs so that they could develop new products and services that are aligned more closely to current and future operational needs in order to help them grow their business more effectively.
The key research objectives were:
The segmentation research was designed to incorporate both a qualitative stage and a quantitative stage. Quantitative and qualitative research is often complementary and in a research design both may feature. The qualitative element frequently takes place at the front end of the study exploring values that need measuring in the subsequent quantitative phase. Therefore, this project design enabled depth and understanding as well as allowing for enough spread to capture the different nuances of industry sectors.
The qualitative stage involved 30 interviews across key industry sectors (food and beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computers/electronics, automotive) to establish the meanings and values they attach to products, brands and the services offered by our Client. We also looked to understand motivators such as why one product rather than another meets a customers needs and what the needs are that are being met.
The quantitative element of the research included 1,000 interviews with customers and potential customers across the different continents of the Americas, Europe and Australasia. The quantitative research was concerned with measurement of the markets attitudes and behaviour i.e. product awareness levels, brand shares, purchase frequencies and awareness measures of brands. During the quantitative phase we also wanted to test attractiveness of specific concepts so that different concepts could be marketed to different customer groupings depending on their needs. The quantitative data was required to have some level of accuracy and so the 1,000 interviews completed meant an accuracy level of 3.2% of what would be achieved if we interviewed everyone in the market.
Findings & Research Benefits
Statistical techniques were used to determine key relationships so that we were able to arrive at customer groups with common characteristics. Factor analysis was used to determine the most important issues driving the purchasing and marketing decision. Cluster analysis, another multi-variate technique, was used to group the factors into clusters which make up the segments.
Segmentation can vary from those which are based on “firmographics” through to those based on user needs. The key to a good needs-based segmentation is ensuring that only a small number of clusters are identified (five is an optimum number), and that a marketing programme can practically target them.
The research found various different needs-based cluster solutions that were all viable options. Working alongside our Client we found overarching themes across all businesses and were therefore able to re-segment their customer base through offering different solutions to different clusters of customer groups that previously had been dealt with on an industry sector basis.
The final deliverables resulted in our Client delivering high value services in a comprehensive and synergistic approach to different market segments based on their needs.