Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning (Part 1)

Dive into the STP model—Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning—to craft precise marketing strategies that resonate deeply with your audience.


The Procure 4 Marketing Team

11/13/20234 min read

a group of people standing around a target with arrows
a group of people standing around a target with arrows

In the competitive landscape of modern marketing, understanding your customer has never been more crucial. The STP model, which stands for Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning, is an indispensable framework that helps marketers craft effective strategies by deeply understanding and accurately targeting their audience.

1. Segmentation: Dividing the Market into Manageable Segments

What is Segmentation?

Market segmentation is a strategic approach used in marketing to divide a broad market into smaller, more manageable segments based on shared characteristics such as demographics, psychographics, geographic locations, or behavioral patterns. This granular division makes it feasible for marketers to craft more targeted and effective marketing strategies that speak directly to the nuanced needs of each subgroup.

Why Segment?

Effective segmentation is critical for companies operating in diverse markets with varied consumer needs and preferences. By identifying distinct segments, companies like Nike can cater specifically to each group’s unique requirements and preferences. For example, Nike segments its customer base into various groups including athletes, casual wearers, children, fitness enthusiasts, and sneaker collectors. Each of these segments has different expectations and uses for their products. Athletes might look for performance and durability, while casual wearers might prioritize style and comfort.

Nike’s ability to understand and act upon these distinctions allows it to develop targeted products that appeal directly to each segment. The company can customize its marketing strategies to highlight the relevant features that appeal to each group. For athletes, Nike focuses on innovation and technology in sports gear; for casual wearers, it might highlight fashion and everyday usability.

By tailoring marketing efforts according to specific segment characteristics, Nike not only increases the efficacy of its advertising but also enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty. This targeted approach ensures that marketing resources are used more efficiently, leading to a higher return on investment and a stronger competitive position in the market. Each campaign is designed to resonate deeply with the intended audience, creating a more personal and compelling marketing message that drives engagement and sales.

2. Targeting: Choosing the Right Segment

What is Targeting?

Targeting in marketing is the strategic step that follows segmentation. Once a company has identified its market segments, targeting involves selecting the most viable groups to focus their marketing efforts on. This process requires an analysis of the potential profitability, size, growth potential, and accessibility of each segment. The aim is to prioritize resources toward the segments that promise the greatest returns and alignment with the company's strategic goals.

Why Target?

Targeting is essential because it directs a company’s resources to the areas where they can be most effectively utilized. This focused approach not only conserves financial resources but also enhances marketing precision. For instance, Nike, known for its wide array of athletic products, might choose to target 'fitness enthusiasts' with its latest range of high-performance athletic gear. This segment is likely to value the advanced features and technology that Nike incorporates into its products, which justifies the investment in specialized marketing campaigns for this group.

By concentrating on the segments that are most likely to respond positively to specific marketing initiatives, companies can maximize the impact of each marketing dollar spent. Targeting enables businesses to craft highly personalized marketing messages that resonate with a specific audience, increasing the likelihood of sales while fostering loyalty. This strategic focus helps companies like Nike not only meet but exceed customer expectations, which is critical in today's competitive market. The result is a more efficient allocation of marketing resources, higher customer satisfaction rates, and ultimately, stronger sales performance. This approach ensures that marketing efforts are not wasted on segments less likely to engage with the brand, leading to more effective and profitable marketing strategies.

3. Positioning: Differentiating the Brand in the Market

What is Positioning?

Positioning is a critical marketing strategy that involves defining a clear and unique position for a brand or product in the consumer’s mind. It goes beyond mere presence in the market to establish a distinct identity that differentiates a brand from its competitors. This strategy is crafted around the brand’s strengths and the benefits it offers, tailored to appeal specifically to the targeted segments identified earlier in the marketing process.

Why Position?

In a competitive market brimming with alternatives, positioning becomes a cornerstone for any brand's success. Effective positioning helps a brand stand out by accentuating unique traits and benefits that resonate deeply with the targeted audience. For instance, Apple leverages its positioning by emphasizing its reputation for innovation, high-quality design, and exceptional user experience. This strategy not only differentiates Apple from its competitors but also creates a premium perception, allowing it to command higher prices and cultivate customer loyalty.

Positioning is not just about being different; it’s about being perceived as better or unique in aspects that customers value. By clearly articulating how a product is different and why that difference is beneficial, a company can enhance the perceived value of its offerings. This perceived value is crucial as it influences buying decisions, enhances customer satisfaction, and drives repeat business.

Apple’s example illustrates how effective positioning can elevate a brand. By consistently aligning its product design, functionality, and marketing message around these core attributes, Apple has successfully cultivated a loyal customer base that perceives its products as not just tools, but as essential components of a modern lifestyle. This strong positioning helps Apple maintain its market dominance and allows it to introduce new products more effectively into an ever-crowded marketplace.

Ultimately, strong positioning is essential for any brand aiming to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage. It enables a company to communicate its unique value proposition clearly and compellingly, ensuring that its marketing messages cut through the noise of a crowded marketplace. This strategic clarity is not just about attracting new customers but also about maintaining relevance and loyalty among existing customers in a dynamic market environment.

Practical Application: Eco-Friendly Water Bottles

Let’s apply STP to a hypothetical startup selling eco-friendly water bottles. Here’s how the process might unfold:

  • Segmentation: The market analysis reveals several key segments including health and fitness enthusiasts, environmentalists, corporate employees, and young students.

  • Targeting: Further analysis indicates that health enthusiasts and environmentalists are more likely to purchase premium eco-friendly products. These segments have a strong alignment with the brand’s values and are selected for targeted marketing campaigns.

  • Positioning: The water bottles are positioned not just as practical hydration solutions but as symbols of commitment to health and environmental sustainability. The marketing messages highlight the product’s unique features like durability, stylish design, and eco-friendly materials to create a distinct brand image.

The STP model offers a powerful approach to understanding and engaging with diverse markets. By segmenting the market, targeting the right consumers, and positioning the product strategically, businesses can develop more focused marketing strategies that lead to higher satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately, better sales performance. As we continue to navigate an ever-changing market landscape, the importance of a well-defined STP strategy remains paramount in connecting with customers effectively and driving business success.