Advancing Yourself

Effectively Segment Your Consumers6 min read


Posted on: 22nd Sep 2020

Data, insights and knowledge are vital to drive successful businesses, increase revenue and satisfy objectives.

In a recent blog I wrote, I focused on the ‘COVID-19’ consumer and how golf clubs can take advantage of increased expenditure, rounds played and engagement from those people who decided to take up golf in the aftermath of national lockdowns.

This exemplified a process of consumer segmentation – a marketing technique that allows us to tailor prices, products and promotions to various people based on differing characteristics. If we do this, we can encourage increased consumption and therefore, increased revenue.

So, how can we segment our consumers beyond that ‘COVID-19’ characterisation? Ordered from the simplest forms, all the way through to the very deep, ambiguous, subjective (and influential) ways, I list and explain some very simple ways that can help guide your own future marketing practice below.

01 DEMOGRAPHIC TRAITS

To breakdown a consumer down based on their objective, easy-to-identify physical traits would be to conduct a demographic segmentation. Such traits include:

  • Gender – Female / Male
  • Age Group – Teenagers / Young Adults / Middle-Aged / Retired
  • Ethnicity
  • Occupation
  • Education

This is a very simple way of collecting data on consumers to then group and break down, and can be done through various ways such as filling in an online questionnaire or recording data through your tee time booking systems.

How does this affect tailoring prices, products and promotions? Well, consider the fact that men will most certainly choose to play 18 holes of golf together more than women; teenagers will consume easier forms of golf such as the driving range and mini golf; people of higher social classes with higher disposable incomes will spend more at your club and on specialist services such as golf lessons than those of lower classes; and people of white-ethnic backgrounds are more likely to consume golf in general than people from BAME communities.

We now have some valuable insights that we can then focus our marketing activities on to encourage behaviour and consumption. The downside of this form of segmentation is that it is rather generic – it doesn’t factor in individual differences (for example, people from the BAME community do choose to play golf, just less so than white ethnicities). We need to look deeper than demographic traits more often than not to gain more insightful and more influential data.

02 BEHAVIOURAL: CONSUMPTION HABITS

This form of segmentation focuses on the way in which your consumers interact with your brand. There are various ways in which you can do this:

  • Frequency – How often do they play golf or have a lesson? Once a week? Monthly? Annually?
  • Time – What times of the day do they play? Twilight? Full rate? Weekends? Weekdays?
  • Occasions – Do they consume golf during set periods or special occasions? Such as bank holidays, Christmas, easter?
  • Type – What product do they consume? Is it a 9 hole green fee? Some PING Golf Clubs? Golf Pride Grips? Junior golf lessons? Golf Carts?
  • Spend – How much do they spend relative to the product / service type they are consuming? Low / Medium / High?

This will give you a very good picture of the consumer from a consumption point of view, rather than just who they are as a person demographically. This is more useful and influential, as it allows you to tailor and target key products and promotions to each individual.

For example, as a golf coach I might create a special Christmas offer with discounted golf lessons. There’s no need to send this to your regular pupils who have a lesson every week. Rather, send it to the people that you know buy golf lesson packages at Christmas, historically, and entice their spending with you again.

The only problem with this is it is a data-heavy form of collecting consumer information. Whilst you will build a pretty good picture of each of your customers (and is something worth investing the time in) it is just that – time consuming. If you can allocate part of your week to this task and focus on just the key areas you want to collect data on, then this might be a more efficient and effective way of segmenting based on consumption habits and your available resource. For example, if you just want to increase green fees, then focus on the green fee frequencies, times, occasions and types that are purchased…

03 BEHAVIOURAL: HUMAN IDENTITY

Human identity is perhaps the deepest, most subjective form of understanding consumer purchasing decisions and behaviour. It takes the previous behavioural form of segmenting based on habits to a much deeper level of understanding.

Consider this – those who identify as a male and those who identify as a female (ignoring the biological characterisation) will consume very different products and services. Males watch more gory, action-focused films, generally play heavier-contact sports, wear certain clothes and listen to certain music. Females will lean towards comedies and chick-flick films, play socially-focused sports and wear very contrasting clothes choices to males!

They do all of this to subconsciously –  to exert and portray their chosen identities. In other words, they watch the films they do, they eat the food they eat and they purchase the goods that they purchase to show that they are a male and show that they are a female. It is a complex social construct that we are not aware of most of the time but this form of segmentation looks at our decisions as consumers in a whole new, subconscious way. And that is why this is so influential and must be exploited, as leading golf marketeers.

Now take this premise, and apply it to the fact that there are endless facets and contributory variables that make up our overall individual identity, and not just the male and female role identities mentioned – in golf, there are those people who identify as ‘Golfers’, and those who identify as ‘somebody who plays golf’. You can already assume that there will be consumption differences between these two, right? But in what ways?

For my University thesis, I took this exact idea to try and better understand consumer behaviour in golf and identify the varying consumption habits of such types of ‘golfing identity’. What I found was insightful at the very least but could actually have influential implications for golf marketing practice. Some of the findings between these two forms of golfing identity included:

Golfers

  • Travel abroad for golfing holidays
  • Hold golf magazine and journalism subscriptions
  • Listen to golf podcasts and various other online content
  • Take regular golf lessons
  • Value playing different courses in their local areas
  • Plays at least twice a week
  • Volunteer for clubs, counties and other golf bodies
  • Value custom fitting and high-spend equipment

Somebody Who Plays Golf

  • Usually play one key golf course, within very short driving distances to their homes
  • Rarely take golf lessons
  • Play golf once a month
  • Generally use second-hand, value-focused equipment

So, by segmenting your consumers using these three different strategies, you have begun your journey to better understanding your consumers and in creating a system for targeting of your products and services. It is now a balancing act on how you decide to segment, based on some set questions – How much time do you have? What do you specifically want to find out? What goals do you have? These will all dictate your choices.

Then, ongoing data collection and analysis is necessary to ensure you are continuously understanding and improving your knowledge of everybody who wants to play golf at your venue, or have lessons with you, or buy those new sets of golf clubs and balls in your shop.

If you do, then you can effectively drive your revenue and returns.