How to Conduct Market Segmentation with Survey Research

How to Conduct Market Segmentation with Survey Research

market segmentation

In the world of an ever-increasing need to be customer-centric, conducting market segmentation is an absolute necessity. That is largely because customer experience (CX) has set the stage for business success. 

86% of consumers have said they would pay more for a better customer experience and 89% said they would stop doing business with a brand that delivers a poor CX.

However, despite these stark outlooks, only 1% of brands consistently meet these expectations, according to consumers. Clearly, there is much work to be done on the customer experience and customer-centricity fronts.

To create optimal customer experiences, brands must profoundly understand their target market. Although this may seem to be a demanding feat, market segmentation provides the missing pieces to the puzzle. 

Although it exists as a separate discipline from survey research, when you pair market segmentation with survey research, your brand is armed with a wealth of knowledge on how to properly cater to your customers' needs. 

This article will explore how to do market segmentation in survey research.

What is Market Segmentation?

Market segmentation is a sub-discipline within marketing, in which you divide your brand’s broader target audience into smaller segments or subsets, based on various criteria such as demographics, behaviors, needs, opinions, interests, and other standards to better categorize your target market. 

The better you understand your segmented audience, the more effectively you can target your consumers for various business needs, such as product development, sales, brand awareness and most importantly, customer retention.

For example, market segmentation allows you to understand how to improve your advertising based on segments such as low vs middle income, men vs women, those who enjoy online shopping vs those who don’t.

The Benefits of Market Segmentation

This practice offers more benefits than the ones listed above. The contributions of each of these benefits weed out unproductive marketing practices, thereby saving you time and money. Here is a list of the several advantages of market segmentation.

    1. Gather pain points on specific segments. These pain points are not present within the entirety of your target market, proving the need to segment it. When you segment your consumers, you’ll understand each of their issues on a more intimate level, allowing you to resolve them faster (and know of their existence).
    2. Convey stronger marketing messages. This practice allows you to avoid coming across as too vague and impersonal. Instead, by understanding your different segments, you’ll be able to create more specific and personalized messages, the kind that speak better to certain groups.
    3. Avoid making the mistakes of your competitors. Your competitors aren’t going to admit their shortfalls at any time, unless they were able to bounce back ten times stronger. As such, you can use market segmentation to understand how particular marketing, offerings or experiences fell short among particular customer segments.
    4. Pique the interest of high-quality prospects. Well-targeted messages will lure in the most likely segments to increase sales in your target market. These are the consumers who don’t merely click on your ads, but actually make purchases
    5. Gain a larger reach by using the right channels. Segmentation helps you uncover the best digital (and other types) of channels through which to market to your segments. Some segments may prefer content, others may attend events, while others are heavy social media consumers. Understanding these preferences and being able to assign them to certain segments is key. You wouldn’t want to spend resources on a seldom-used channel by your segments.
    6. Identify niche markets. Finding particular segments is known as niche marketing, meaning that your product/service is not necessarily niche, but certain segments of your target market form their own niches. Segmentation enables you to market to these niche audiences, so that you can create new products/services for your underserved segments.
    7. Accumulate brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is ever important, as it is a pillar of a profitable business; it virtually guarantees that your target market will continue buying from your brand and think of your brand first when they need something from your industry.  market segmentation

How to do Market Segmentation

Before you begin on survey research, which is a crucial stage in market segmentation, you need to carry out the segmentation process at its basic levels. This means understanding all the major steps that make up this practice.

The following steps provide an overview of how to do market segmentation. Note that this article covers segmenting your market by four types in the following section.

  1. Study your market. Conduct market research via secondary resources and the market research survey. What you should seek:
    1. What’s the market demand for your product/service? Is it large or too small (niche)?
    2. How does your brand fit into your overall market?
  2. Find the proper type of segmentation. Market segmentation is conducted through 5 categories of study: demographic, psychographic, geographic and behavioral  (explained in the next section). Choose which your brand needs to study the most; you don’t need to focus on just one. Instead, you can do market segmentation with a few or even all of these criteria.
  3. Continue doing market research. When you settle on which type of segmentation you are going to conduct, you’ll need to perform it via market research. You can do so by conducting more secondary research and implementing primary research as well. For the latter, focus on questions that relate to the above categories. You should create more personalized ones as you come to grips with your segments.
  4. Categorize and develop your customer segments. Gather all your research based on which of the 5 types of segmentation you use, and all the secondary and primary research you garnered. Group customer types into their various commonalities, as part of the 5 methods. Group them into segments and personas.
  5. Create new marketing strategies accordingly. Test them out on your newly found customer segments. This is not only beneficial for general marketing purposes but can lead to finding new personas within your segments. 

The 5 Types of Market Segmentation

The previous section presented a general rundown of the market segmentation process. The core of this process, as its name implies, is the segmenting portion, i.e., step two. This is because market segmentation is divided into 5 sorts. These classifications will help you understand you to better market to and serve your segmented customer base.  

Demographic Segmentation:

This segmentation type creates groupings of customers based on their demographics. These include categories such as gender, age, education, race, ethnicity, occupation, income level et al. Demographics is the most prominent and widely-used type of segmentation. Many products have been developed simply based on and for particular demographics.

Geographic Segmentation

This type of segmentation focuses on locations such as countries, territories, states, counties, cities, zip codes and others. Although it can exist as a demographic category, it is also regarded as its own type of segmentation. This segmentation is critical for marketing, as customers within different geographical regions have their own sets of needs, preferences and limitations. 

This segmentation is also of great use to market research, especially specific types, such as real estate market research or quantitative research, when you need to make generalizations on segments in particular locations.

Behavioral Segmentation:

This divides markets by behaviors and behavioral patterns. The focus is on actions such as consumer purchases, loyalty, lifestyle, usage of products/services in your industry, device preferences and brand interactions. Conducting this segmentation will inform you on how the different subsets in your target market behave in relation to your brand and your industry at large. 

These behaviors are crucial to know so that you can create a more tailored marketing approach and better user experiences. That is because this segmentation allows you to glean how your customers make purchases and by how much. 

Psychographic segmentation:

market segmentation

This categorizes people based on the psychologically driven aspects of behaviors. As such, the target market is divided on the basis of certain opinions, values, personalities and inclinations. Psychographic segmentation is the type of classification that not only allows you to assign segments to groups of people, but to pick their brains.

That is because you can create surveys centered on each of these segments to understand the intentions and feelings of a particular consumer group. This segmentation is especially useful in qualitative research, as it helps you pinpoint trends in opinions and uncover the causes behind actions. 

Firmographic Segmentation

Comparable to demographic segmentation, this kind factors in demographics, except the kind that zero in on organizations. As such, this segmentation method would study aspects such as company industry, type, size and employee count, among others. 

This is useful for a number of market research campaigns. You can use it to aid competitive analysis along with understanding your consumers from the perspective of their employment. Most of all, this segmentation is crucial for B2B businesses as it helps you discover how to market to other companies. You would certainly need to know how to divide this customer base into smaller markets.

Using Survey Research for Market Segmentation

Market segmentation is a clever practice for market research and marketing purposes. This is because it allows you to narrow your focus in advertising, social media and other marketing campaigns, to a smaller group of people who are nonetheless a part of your target market, the consumer group most likely to buy from you.

This methodology should therefore remind you that you should not merely focus on broad campaigns when addressing your target market. You should keep in mind that this market tends to be wide-ranging, thus has its own subsets that differ from one another.

In addition, survey research, as laid out in several above examples, is key to deploy when conducting market segmentation. But it is also crucial to employ after conducting market segmentation, as surveys allow you to dig deeper into the minds of your consumers. 

Market segmentation (led primarily by survey research), like other marketing activities, must be acted upon. For example, if you were able to segment your target market into several categories, how will you know how to give them precisely what they need? Survey research will help you find out, not to mention help you avoid unproductive marketing campaigns. 

Frequently asked questions

What is market segmentation?

Market segmentation is the process of dividing a brand’s audience into smaller groups (segments) based on more narrowly defined characteristics of the group.

What is the purpose of market segmentation?

Market segmentation is performed to help a company better understand its customers or potential customers by focusing on the varying needs of each specific segment.

What are some of the applications of market segmentation?

Market segmentation can be used to understand the needs of each segment in order to improve products or services, create more effective marketing campaigns, identify new markets, encourage brand loyalty, explore the competition, and expand the reach of marketing channels.

What is demographic segmentation?

Demographic segmentation is used to create market segments based upon the demographics of existing or potential customers.

What is geographic segmentation?

Geographic segmentation is used to create market segments based upon location. The location size may be small (e.g. neighborhood or specific zip code) or large (e.g. state or country).

How To Run Market Research For Your Startup

How To Run Market Research For Your Startup

Market research is a vital component of any business; it is especially indispensable for startups, which are notorious for carrying many risks. For instance, startups have a dismal rate of failure in 2020: a heaping 90% of new startups fail. Unfortunately, this is but one of the many other grim statistics these companies face.

Luckily, startup companies that conduct market research have a major leg up in their field. That’s because market research is a wide-spanning strategy that allows businesses to glean an array of insights. This includes findings on their competitors, customers, potential customers and the sector/niche at large.

In this article, you’re going to learn how to run startup market research for your company to stay ahead of the game and preempt failure.

Where to Begin on Market Research for Startups

Given that market research is an umbrella term, it’s common to be uncertain as to where to begin. It may seem that with market research websites, tech platforms and the mighty Internet itself, market research is information overload. It’s just another headache-inducing task that will produce few results.

That’s where you’re wrong.

Knowing where to start conducting a viable market research plan is key to garnering essential business knowledge, and the results can make or break your startup.

The first undertaking of doing market research is, well, discovering if there’s a market for your product or service. Many entrepreneurs evade this critical first step, as it may seem too obvious.

Or, you may feel a tad too complacent with your offering, deeming it abundantly innovative or useful, so much so that it doesn’t need to identify a market to which it belongs.

That’s a major misstep. You must always first identify the market you belong to. Only thereafter, can you determine your precise target market and continue with your market research. Most importantly, the market you identify can help you learn if your product or service is in demand. If you have too niche of a market, you will want to amplify your marketing efforts to bring more awareness to your niche and increase its profit-reaping potential.

Understanding Your Market

Once you’ve identified which market your product or service falls under and whether it’s worthy to branch into, you’re going to need to have a solid grasp on your market. This is not a “one and done” task, as market trends and marketing strategies across markets evolve with the times. Sometimes these changes occur in a matter of days.

Understanding your market, or more specifically, your niche, will help catapult you towards success. This is the bulk of market research and it involves relying on a swath of different sources.

There are two types of sources to observe in your market and niche, and in market research as a whole: primary and secondary sources.

Primary research

is research that you generate yourself, usually directly from the customers. This type of firsthand information is crucial for understanding your buyer personas and segmenting your target market. We’ll analyze primary research later in the article.

Secondary research

is the research that’s already been generated from a variety of sources and made available on the internet, trade magazines and other literature.

For the purpose of understanding your market, niche and competitors, we’re going to focus on secondary research.

You ought to accumulate as much secondary information as possible if you want a clear picture of your market. Here are the secondary sources you should turn to when running your market research on your market itself:

  1. For the latest trends within your market/niche, obtain trend reports from credible sources such as Google Alerts, Google Trends and Keyhole. These are keyword-based tools that can help you identify trends via:

      1. Finding the latest blogs, news, videos and search terms for free (Google Alerts)
      2. Monitoring search terms and drawing data on users searching for the terms for free (Google Trends).
      3. Overlooking keywords, topics, social media handles, URLs and mentions for a fixed price.
  2. Next, gather all the necessary statistics on typical personas within the market, buying habits, conversion rates and more.
    1. US Census Bureau and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (public market data)
    2. Research agencies: Pew, Forrester and Gartner for a wide span of market reports
    3.  Industry content sites (news and blog sites particular to a niche. Ex: Ars Technica for tech and IT; Mashable for tech, culture, science; Product Hunt for sharing and discovering new products; etc.)
  3. Then, study your competitors closely.
  4. Identify direct and indirect competitors:
    1. Direct competitors: Businesses with products/services that closely resemble your own and can substitute yours.
    2. Indirect competitors: Businesses with relatively similar products/services, but cannot fully substitute one another.
    3. Find the potential weaknesses in your competitors’ offerings, or learn how to use their strengths to improve your own.
    4. Parse through their websites to understand their pricing, customers and content.
    5. Research their sales channels and social media.
    6. Use specific tools for competitor analysis (SEMRush, Nielsen,, etc.)
  5. Finally, store all the findings on your market (the specific niche, and competitors) into an organized and comprehensive document such as a presentation for current and ongoing reference. This is going to be your market knowledge base.

Understanding Your Customers and Potential Customers

Now that you have aggregated a slew of research within your industry and competitors, it’s time to do a deeper delve into your market research. This latter stage is all about your customers: current customs, those in a nurturing stage and all other potential customers.

That’s where primary sources come largely into play. We’ve covered secondary sources and how they can help you research your overall market, but now, it’s time to understand your target market.

A target market is a group of people that a company targets as the primary buyers of their product/service. This is the group on whom a company focuses all of its marketing initiatives. This is the main group of a market, as it is the one most likely to make purchases and become loyal customers.

There are two types of primary sources: exploratory primary sources and specific primary sources. Both of these are necessary to render a clear understanding of your target market.

Here is how to continue your market research by investigating your target market:

  1. Preface the makeup of your target market via the secondary research you’ve conducted in the first half of the article. This will give you a general sense of who your target market is.
  2. To fully understand your target market, switch to primary sources to understand the full scope of your target market and cater to them the right way.
    1. Run exploratory primary research on your target market. This involves conducting:
      1. open-ended interviews over the phone or in-person
      2. surveys with a small amount of respondents
      3. surveys that cover the entirety of your target market

3. Identify issues and potential opportunities to study within your target market.

4. Use these topics to narrow into the specifics of your target market with specific primary sources.

    1. Create surveys that focus on specific segments of your target market.
    2. Focus on questions aimed at solving points of friction or problems

Closing Up on Setting Market Research in Motion

Aside from understanding your customers’ preferences, needs and problems, it is of utmost importance to first understand them from a demographics perspective. As highlighted in Step 1, you can gather some qualities about your target market from secondary sources. But it’s only a primer and far from giving you the full picture.

Surveys, on the other hand, give startups a major advantage over secondary data and even other primary sources such as focus groups. This is because you control all the questions you collect on your subjects. This includes demographics data such as age, location, gender, education and income level, ethnic background, marital status and more.

A twofold market research tool, surveys also grant you access into the minds of your target audience. Again, this is because you are in control of conceiving all the questions about your target market.

Understanding what in particular your customers’ desire and how they generally think will empower your market research efforts and business in general to stay ahead of the curve. It will assure that you know how to properly market to your customers.

Frequently asked questions

Why is market research important for startups?

Market research can help a startup avoid failure by providing an in-depth view of the market, including potential customers, competitors, and their sector in general. Market research can help prevent failure and ensure that startup funds are used wisely.

What is the first step in market research for startups?

The first step is to identify the precise market that the startup wants to target. By understanding the target market, the company can determine if there is sufficient demand for their product or service.

What is a target market?

The group of consumers who are most likely to buy a company’s products or services is referred to as the target market. While there may be customers outside of this group, the target market contains those people who are most likely to become loyal customers.

What are the two methods of research used in market research?

Primary research and secondary research are the two components of market research. Primary research focuses on gathering first-hand information via research panels, surveys, focus groups, etc. Secondary research makes use of existing, published information such as white papers, industry journals, and government statistics sites.

What advantages do surveys have for startups?

Not only do surveys provide the responses to the specific questions that a business needs answers to, but they can also be used to gather a wealth of demographic data. Since startups are often operating in areas where there is less secondary research available, the collection of demographic data can provide information that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.