The Problem. Different people buy children's products for different
reasons. They find out about them through different media, they shop for them differently
and they get different benefits from them. If you try to treat diverse people as if
they were a mass market, you will end up with compromise product that makes a close bond
with hardly anyone and is reachable only by the most broad-based, inefficient and
expensive media campaigns.
The Solution. Psychographic segmentation provides a way of breaking
down the amorphous general population into coherent, manageable units. But to be
truly useful, psychographic segmentation of children's markets requires a deep knowledge
of family dynamics and child psychology and an appreciation of the information needs of
The Procedure. There are three steps
- Survey. If the family, not the individual, is the focus we
interview a parent and a child from every sampled family. The range of questions is
typically very broad - covering attitudes, opinions, experiences, perceptions and
behaviors which are suspected to relate in some way to consumer behavior. Getting
the right questions, and asking them in the right way is pivotal - and especially
difficult with children.
- Statistical analysis. There are many strategies for isolating
segments from each other. The most important thing is to use a clustering procedure
that stays grounded in the behaviors we are trying to impact: brand sales, category usage,
or whatever. Otherwise, there is a great risk of coming up with a clustering scheme
that is just another "nice to know" finding that gives us no new leverage with
the consumer behavior we are trying to change.
- Psychological profiling. It is one thing to discover that certain
groups of individuals give similar responses on certain key questions in a survey.
It is quite another to figure out who these people really are: what the underlying
psychology is that makes them think and feel and act as they do. It is this final,
profiling step that makes segmentation useful to marketers and creators. To make
profiles that accurately reflect the segments, while making them "come alive" as
people, takes a lot of art and a lot of science. The technique I use to create
profiles draws heavily on the analytical procedures of the Grounded Theory school. It is very labor
intensive, but its results are consistently rich, deep and accurate.
The Payoffs. A good segmentation study can point the way to better
strategy, better products and better-targeted media. It can give you an
understanding of a market of diverse people with unique needs and unique behaviors.
I have found no kind of research that more consistently gives deep insights into the
hearts and minds of the buying public. Much of what I know about child influence on family purchases comes from
psychographic segmentations of families, grounded upon their consumer behavior.
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