Geographic segmentation in marketing campaigns
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In the era of e-commerce and digital marketing, it’s important to remember that your market is most likely spread out over a wide range of places, sometimes even across the globe. To reach your audiences effectively, geographic segmentation needs to be part of your marketing strategy.
Geographic segmentation is the practice of dividing your target market into groups according to their specific physical locations. By understanding the wants and needs of the various places your target market comes from and adjusting your messaging accordingly, you can form a closer relationship with your buyers.
Geographic segmentation encompasses many aspects of a local market, including physical location, climate, culture, population density, and language. Here, we’ll take a more detailed look at how each factor plays into your campaign through various geographic segmentation examples.
Perhaps the most obvious aspect of geographic segmentation is the actual physical location of your customers since where they live has a significant influence. A person’s country, state, city, or even neighborhood are not only points of pride but will also influence their wants, needs, and what is available to them.
Many search engine queries are local in nature. Think of all the times you’ve searched for a nearby store, restaurant, or other destination. In most of those situations, you’re looking for something within reasonable driving distance. The same applies to e-commerce, services, and shipping. Whether you’re trying to get yourself to the product or service or get it shipped to you, it’s a safe bet that you’re looking for the nearby option that closes that gap.
In marketing, it pays to keep that concern in mind with geographic segmentation. If your business can only serve a small geographical area, it makes sense to focus your ad spend on that area. If your product or service is available in a larger area, pay attention to how your target market’s wants and needs might shift in different locations. Depending on the brick-and-mortar, shipping, or internet options available in particular areas, your product or service might have more or less availability from place to place, which can influence your messaging in certain geographic markets.
Weather and the changing of seasons are common topics of small talk for a reason: they hugely affect a person’s day-to-day life.
It will come as no surprise to hear that weather and climate will differ in various parts of the world and country. Looking at the United States alone, you can easily see that regions like the Northeast and Midwest have colder, harsher winters. At the same time, the West Coast tends to be warmer year-round, and the Gulf Coast tends to be warm and humid with occasional storms.
One obvious market where climate affects product offerings and messaging is clothing. Even if it’s a smart move to market winter coats to New Yorkers in November, the same marketing campaign won’t have as much luck targeted at Californians at the same time of year.
Another thing to consider is seasonality. Seasonal events, holidays, and annual local events will differ depending on where you go. Certain conventions and tradeshows might host their annual events in a particular city. Some cities have fairs and festivals around certain holidays, and big seasonal sporting events often catch local interest. By earnestly taking an interest in these events in your messaging and potentially tying them into campaigns, you can capture the eye of local markets.
Cultural attitudes and customs also vary from place to place, coloring each location with its own unique social climate. Depending on where you sell your goods and services, you’ll need to take local cultures into account to stay true to your company’s mission. This shows respect for your customers, creates a more genuine relationship, and draws in more customers from geographic markets that you might not have had access to before.
Marketing in the U.S. can differ greatly based on location, even within the context of a single market vertical. Imagine, for instance, that you sold cars. You’ll likely highlight different models and features depending on where you’re marketing your products.
In places like Utah or Hawaii (with low median ages and large average family sizes), highlighting features like seating capacity, safety options, and entertainment packages will help resonate with your target audience. Somewhere like California, it would be great to showcase a vehicle’s fuel economy and eco-friendliness. In dense cities like New York City, where personal cars are less necessary, you could lean into their exclusivity and luxury.
It’s worth noting that each of the examples above could easily be about the same car, simply tweaking the messaging according to the unique car culture in different geographic markets.
Another commonly cited example of culture influencing products and marketing is how McDonald’s adjusts their menu in different parts of the world, perhaps most notably in India. Because of the sacred nature of the cow in Hinduism (the majority religion in India), beef is much less common in Indian cuisine. Though McDonald’s is famous for its burgers in much of the world, their restaurants in India do not serve any beef to match local customs.
The population density of a geographic market is helpful not only for gauging the potential amount of customers in an area, but also for determining certain aspects of the population’s lifestyle and, to a certain degree, their demographics.
For example, a place with lower population density will tend to have a more spread-out living situation and likely be more rural. Day to day, they will have a different lived experience than those who live in more densely packed urban environments. The pace of life, expectations of privacy, and overall social structures tend to be different as well.
Additionally, higher population density tends to encourage diversity. Much like the internet allows like-minded people to find each other, high-population areas have historically been an easier place for specialists from certain industries, immigrants, or members of certain religions to form small communities within larger cities. For that reason, specialty stores (whether they’re stores for niche interests or grocery stores specializing in ethnic foods) tend to see more success in urban or suburban areas.
It’s also worth noting that, due to higher employment opportunities and better access to transportation, urban and suburban customers will generally tend to have more disposable income. Consider focusing on urban or suburban geographic markets when marketing more expensive products and services.
With over 7,100 languages spoken across the globe today, any business that serves more than just a few people is bound to run into someone who doesn’t natively speak their language. Different languages don’t just bring a different collection of words. They also bring a variety of idioms, slang, and superstitions that can change intended messages in unexpected ways. For that reason, whenever you move into a new geographic market segment, you should thoroughly research the local languages and dialects to ensure that your branding and messaging survive any translation.
One marketing urban legend holds that sales of Chevy Nova suffered when the vehicle was introduced to Spanish-speaking countries because “no va” translates to “doesn’t go.” This tale has been proven to be nothing more than a myth, not the least of all because Nova sales did not suffer in these countries and also because Spanish speakers don’t typically refer to a malfunctioning car by saying it “doesn’t go.” Though this story is false, it does still highlight the importance of checking your messaging with native speakers when segmenting your market by spoken language.
Sometimes, however, companies can shrewdly use linguistic differences to their advantage. Take, for example, the wild popularity of Kit Kats in Japan. This is due, in part, to an interesting quirk of the Japanese language. As a syllabic language, most consonant sounds in Japanese require a vowel sound afterward. This renders the pronunciation of Kit Kat as “kitto katto,” which just so happens to sound a lot like the actual Japanese phrase “kitto katsu” which means, “You will surely win.”
Leaning into this association, Nestlé Japan cleverly marketed the candy as a good luck charm gift for university students. By understanding the Japanese language and the local gift-giving culture, Kit Kats became one of the most popular candy bars in all of Japan.
Geographic segmentation is one of the most effective ways to segment your marketing audiences because many other segmentation types are influenced by location. Here are some of the main reasons why you should factor geographics into your marketing campaigns.
If you mainly do business in one brick-and-mortar location, that’s just one physical place for customers to purchase your goods. What happens when it’s time to expand? By conducting research and checking statistics, you can determine which other geographic markets have demand high enough to sustain a new location of your business. Whether it’s down the street, the next city, or even on another continent, geographic segmentation can give you the insight needed to expand into new markets when you have the resources to do so.
Seasonal campaigns are not one-size-fits-all. You can’t just copy and paste what you did in one geographic market and expect that plan to work out in a new locale. As we discussed earlier, different locations have different climates, both culturally and in regard to the weather. Failing to take a location’s local events and weather into account can be costly for your business. In the best-case scenario, you end up with poorly targeted ads that don’t land with locals. Worst case, you find yourself in the uphill battle of selling swimsuits when your geographic market is experiencing subzero temperatures.
Geographic segmentation allows you to develop a cross-section of local markets. While other segmentation strategies provide valuable info about the types of people that are attracted to your product and what motivates them, geographic segmentation tells you where to find those people. It’s great to know what you’re looking for, but being able to locate the places where your search is most concentrated is like having a treasure map.
It’s easy to assume that a certain demographic will have the same wants and needs no matter their geographic location. Person A in Florida may be the same age, gender, religion, and cultural background as Person B in New York, but that doesn’t mean that the same marketing campaigns will work for both people.
Though they have a lot in common, Person A and Person B are two separate people in two different locations. New York and Florida have different weather patterns and seasonal events. Additionally, what it “means” to be a 30-something, French, Protestant woman likely differs in Miami from what it means to have the same traits in New York City. While marketing might be similar in many ways for Person A and Person B, you need to consider their unique geographic data needs if you hope to effectively market to both.
Customer location is obtained through sources like IP address, which can provide useful information about a person’s location. Mailing and billing addresses can also help you determine where a person is located. Other location data may be obtained when a consumer fills out a form online or adds the details to their social media profile.
To ensure you can access a customer’s location data, you can build geographic knowledge into our systems. This allows you to store location data and access it when a new customer’s location is provided. This knowledge also helps analyze and interpret location data so it can be used effectively in marketing efforts.
Tracking geographic goals entails monitoring how location data is being used to target customers, as well as tracking the performance of campaigns based on the locations being targeted. By keeping track of these goals, you can see how well you’re meeting your objectives and adjust strategies as needed to ensure geographic details are being used effectively to reach a desired audience.
Having an accurate sense of the different geographic markets your business touches is a vital component of marketing and product design. When you understand where your audience is from, you can build a more genuine connection with them as people.
With our geographical data, we can help marketers like you see better results. We can help you increase sales at your in-person store in a local city, deliver specifically tailored messaging in specific locations, and much more. Discover how you can target particular geographic segments by using our consumer segmentation tool to learn more about your customers today!
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