Product-class Usage As a Basis for Demographic Segmentation

A natural and powerful a priori segmentation variable is product-class usage. Who are the heavy users of the product or service? In many product categories, the heavy users (who are usually 20 to 30 percent of the users) account for almost 70 to 80 percent of the volume consumed: this is sometimes called the “80:20” rule. It is obviously extremely valuable for a brand to have most of its users from the heavy-user category, for that should lead to disproportionately higher share of units sold.


Segmentation & Positioning for Strategic Marketing DecisionsOne segmentation scheme might thus involve heavy users, light users, and nonusers. This particular segmentation scheme is likely to be useful wherever the focus is on building up the market. Each person is classified according to usage, and a program is developed to increase the usage level. The segments defined by usage usually require quite different marketing programs. So a program tailored to one of these segments can generate a substantially greater response than would a marketing program common to all segments. Of course, designing and implementing several marketing programs is costlier than developing one, but the resulting market response will often be significant enough to make it worthwhile.

A somewhat different aspect of usage segmentation is the possibility that consumers may seek different benefits from the same product (e.g., soft drinks) depending on the nature of the usage-occasion (e.g., social use versus food-enhancement). Different ad campaigns to address these different occasion-based segments are therefore also possible.