Nothing stays the same and after a number years a business in rapid growth may experience a plateau or even decline in growth (absolute or rate).
A possible cause for this lies in the fact that markets don’t stay the same – customers change, competitors evolve their positions and external influences bring about new market place perspectives.
The issue can be that the way the business segmented its market – using response bases generated in proprietary market research – has become irrelevant to the new market place.
CHECK THE RESPONSE BASES
The two commonly used segmentation bases for business2business and consumer markets are:
- IDENTIFICATION BASES/QUESTIONS, which can identify segments by product requirements, for example, and
- RESPONSE/ATTITUDINAL BASES/QUESTIONS, which can be more powerful, for example attitudinal can lead to segmentations by purchasing behavior, relationship requirements, brand influence and communications.
HAVE THE IDENTIFICATION BASES CHANGED?
In business2business markets, have any of the identification bases changed; such as:
- size of companies
- growth rates (has the market matured and therefore business growth rates generally slowed from earlier high growth?)
- classification codes
In consumer markets, similarly, have any of these identification bases changed?:
- demographics (for example, has the population structure changed significantly – from younger to older!)
- life stage
- socio-economic characteristics
- product usage
HAVE THE RESPONSE PROFILE BASES CHANGED?
Response bases underlie why a customer buys a particular product and how a customer goes about buying a product. In the case of business2business, it is about the company’s approach to doing business.
For the business2business sector, have any of these response bases changed?:
- buying processes
- distinctive business growth strategies of the company
- distinctive business competencies (are there new skill sets emerging , such as alternative energy management?)
For consumer markets, response bases might include:
- brand loyalty
- benefits sought/desired
- brand perceptions
- motivation (as economies move into recession, people are more motivated by the lower needs in maslows hierarchy of needs)
- purchase behaviour
- purchase occasion
A contributory factor to growth slowdown or decline, and therefore a potential accelerant for entry into the next level of growth for a business lies in keeping segmentation up to-date and in line with market change. Segmentation bases have to evolve , particularly where key attitudinal and response bases change.