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The Customer Segmentation Dilemma

by Jenny on September 23, 2022 Comments Off on The Customer Segmentation Dilemma

One of the cornerstone processes of being a data-driven business is customer segmentation. We take the broader audience and group them by specific traits, characteristics, or behaviors. This is how we create consumer personas for targeted marketing campaigns and identify sub-group trends for CX personalization, among other things.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that everyone is unique. Two individuals who share an anchor characteristic can be completely different in every other aspect. So, the “segmentation dilemma” is finding a balance between grouping these individuals based on similarities while at the same time acknowledging and appreciating their differences.

This topic came to my attention as I was chatting with my sister about our weekend plans. We’re twins, we co-own MacKenzie, we’re both married with two daughters, and we share a lot of other characteristics. However, in other ways, we are opposites. While she’s up early on a Saturday hiking or long-distance running, I’m sipping coffee and reading in my backyard. I’m a “dive-in headfirst” type of person whereas she’s more of a planner. We perfectly represent the segmentation dilemma and the challenge faced by businesses trying to connect with us on a personal level.


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Here’s a real-world example: My sister, Katie, bought a pair of running shoes after registering for a half marathon. She loved the shoes and suggested I get a pair of my own, which I did. She liked the arch support and sole durability. I liked the overall style and comfort. She wore down the tread in about 8 months. I wear them often but have only been truly active in them about 8 times.

Now, let’s look at this from the shoe brand’s perspective. We both bought the same type of shoe. We match up in every demographic and sociographic category. So, if segmentation analysis were based on any of those metrics, we’d be receiving the same brand messaging and CX personalization. But for one of us, the messaging and experience wouldn’t be relevant.

This example highlights how things have evolved in the world of customer insights. Brands need to go beyond the traditional buyer metrics such as demographics, sociographics, and purchase patterns. There needs to be an emphasis on thoughts and feelings, purchase intent and usage, lifestyle preferences and interests. By understanding who we are as people, that shoe brand could identify more nuanced segmentation categories that showcase our distinct personalities.

Images and content focused on distance running would be relevant to Katie, and I’d connect more with pictures of a mom at the park with her kids. This is where a “Getting to Know You” survey is so valuable, which is something I’ve talked a lot about. Not just for new customers, but all customers. Our lifestyles, interests, and overall environments frequently change. So, the more we know about the person behind the purchase, the better equipped we are to connect with the unique individuals.

If you ever get caught up in the segmentation dilemma, I’d love to chat! There are a number of helpful tips and solutions I’ve learned over the years, it’s just a matter of finding which is the best fit for your situation. Feel free to call or reach out any time, I’m more than happy to share thoughts and ideas.


Jenny Dinnen is President of Sales and Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. Driven to maximize customer's value and exceed expectations, Jenny carries a can-do attitude wherever she goes. She maintains open communication channels with both her clients and her staff to ensure all goals and objectives are being met in an expeditious manner. Jenny is a big-picture thinker who leads MacKenzie in developing strategies for growth while maintaining a focus on the core services that have made the company a success. Basically, when something needs to get done, go see Jenny. Before joining MacKenzie, Jenny worked at HD Supply as a Marketing Manager and Household Auto Finance in their marketing department. Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and her MBA from the University of Redlands.

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