Marketing Segmentation


‘The rifle approach to targeting customers is an effective way for a business to segment the market’.   Discuss.


The segmentation concept was first developed by W.R. Smith in 1957, and is concerned with the grouping of consumers according to their needs (Blythe 1998).   Morden (1991) defines market segmentation as:

“The analysis of a particular total demand in terms of its constituent parts, so that sets of buyers can be determined.”   (Cartwright, 2002).

The main purpose of segmentation is to enable the business to concentrate its efforts on the buyers who have greater purchase interest - the “rifle” approach.


Before segmenting a market, many characteristics of buyers have to be considered, namely:

  a) Measurability

      The segment must be clearly identifiable and measurable in terms of the variables chosen as the basis of segmentation. For instance, banks obtain information pertaining to buyers’ income quite easily.

  b) Accessibility

      An identified market segment can be exploited commercially only if it can             be reached. It must be easily accessible to one or other elements of the marketing mix. In other words, the organization must be capable of concentrating on the chosen segment with the mix chosen.

  c) Potentiality

      The segment should be of sufficient potential size to ensure that enough return can be derived from any marketing investment made in it.

  d) Relevance

      The basis of segmentation (age or social status) must be relevant to the purchase or use of the product.

Market segmentation can be described using two different approaches:

        1. By analyzing the characteristics of the buyers in terms of the three variables –demographic, geographic and psychographic.

        2.   By focusing on how customers behave, and the benefits they seek from
          a product or service, in terms of   behavioural segmentation...