Hyper-segmentation – a Caveat

We know from Marketing 101 that Marketing and market segmentation go hand-in-hand. Marketers start by segmenting the market to reach and connect with the customers with relevant products, communication, messages and media mix.  However, if the market segment is too broad, you lose the focus and relevance of the brand. If you cut it too tight, you lose the opportunity, economies of scale and profitability. Thus market segments should be balanced to be relevant and profitable.

Market segmentation is of jugular importance in multicultural marketing and there are 101 ways to segment multicultural markets. Few of these are: culture, language, religion, ethnicity, time in country, country of origin and more, and then sub-segmentation on the basis of age, gender, income, family size and education so on and so forth. This at times lends to hyper-segmentation, which I believe is expensive, time-consuming, prone to pitfalls and ineffective.

Marketers are translating ads in different South Asian languages within the South Asian market segment of 1.25 m to 1.50 m people. I see ads translated in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and few other South Asian languages that I don’t know. Isn’t it cutting it too fine? It is challenging to adapt an ad in another language and keep the nuances intact. Let alone, translating and adapting in several languages and not diluting the message in the process. I believe hyper-segmentation strategy wouldn’t cut it because of the following:

  • Sub-segmentation of an estimated 1.50 m market into 3-4 segments on the basis of language makes it too small to be profitable.
  • The skill set (good copy writing & marketing inclination) required to translate and adapt ads is hard to find resulting in not-so-great adaptation.
  • The cost of ad development increases many folds due to translation and adaptation. Given the size of multicultural marketing budgets, it is prudent to invest this amount in buying media frequency.
  • Immigrants pass English test to qualify for immigration to Canada. Thus most immigrants, specially from South Asia, are at least comfortable in reading English.
  • Using Minglish in ads is a happy medium, which I see adept marketers using often.

Do you agree or disagree with my point of view? Please comment below and let me know.

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About Fazal Siddiqi
Fazal Siddiqi Writes on current marketing, branding, communications, diversity and socio-economic opportunities & challenges. He lives in Canada and works for OPAL Marketing Group.

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