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Market Segmentation And Developing Markets

Market segmentation is a useful methodology when it comes to nowadays highly competitive markets. From my personal experience in mobile telecom, the market segmentation was not always something we were interested in. In earlier days, the competitors were limited and although we identified our customers to be among the rich within society, we did not take the niche approach and neither positioned ourselves as an upper scale service. In a matter of fact, during those old days, we barely practiced any type of promotion.

By realizing the fact that the selling price of the handset was prohibitive to the majority of the population, we had to plan our approach to the market. The service fees were above any communication budget that a middle class household could afford. Actually, during that stage, we targeted upper class businessmen, international organizations and others who could afford the service and needed it due to their line of work.

Although not practicing segmentation yet as an understanding, the nature of our products geared the company towards a psychographic approach especially related to lifestyle of expected customers.  Although the psycho-graphical approach continues to be used heavily, it is not the sole focus of mobile business.

Various segments joined the mobile telecom market: Small and medium businesses, freelancers, students, housewives, etc… The mobile telecom business became bigger than ever and as it got bigger more and more competitors entered the market. Segmentation challenge spread over geographic, demographic, and psychographic aspects and although one aspect or the other may have been the leading basis, the challenge often included a combination of all.

For us, marketers in developing countries, the challenges are not only in the ability to identify successfully the various segments and pinpoint the target- As much as we try to apply what we learned in Universities, and follow the latest marketing trends, we need to face the realities of the markets we work in. Theoretically it looks rather easy to collect a bunch of reports and market researches, understand and analyze them then implement a marketing strategy accordingly. But what if these reports that are supposed to be a given in developed markets do not even exist?

Let us take as an example the geo-marketing. It can be simply described as the usage of geographic information in the process of planning marketing activities. For any location within the US if you consult any free mapping service on the web you can be overwhelmed with the information you get. Try to find the same information for a city in West Africa. Nowadays you probably would find some information but is it even comparable to the information you can find about a village in the USA? The databases of information, if available, are decades old.

As hard as it may be, marketers have to find solutions. Whether in-house development of available information or do-it on your own research, we still have to understand the market. When faced with competition it is important to position yourself, and you cannot position yourself anywhere other than within your targeted customers’ base, the segment that needs your services.

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