In marketing a key concept is market segmentation – deciding how to divide your market into individual segments so you can target your products and services, prices, advertising etc to that segment’s needs and demands.
Marketing can be conducted a different levels of segmentation:
Mass-marketing – no segmentation. This is not necessarily a bad strategy. It spreads costs across the largest possible number of customers and makes for a consistent brand image. It does however tend to lead to competing on price which may lead to low profit margins.
Segmented markets – this would be something like the over 55s – quite broad and usually with a lot of competitors – but nevertheless defining some characteristics of the market e.g. interested in holidays during the school term, not interested in low cost mortgages or nappies!
Niche marketing – quite specific groups within a market segment such as the over 55s gay and lesbian niche (yes there are companies addressing this niche). Often an unexpected group with little or no competition.
Local marketing – marketing to a specific town or even store. A supermarket chain may authorise local managers to stock and promote products specific to their store. Can be effective but have to be wary of costs and diluting brand.
Individual marketing – this has always existed at a local level. If the village shop stocks vegemite because you are the one Australian in the village who buys it – then that is individual marketing. Famously the web has enabled large companies to do mass customisation i.e. mass individual marketing. The paradigm example being Amazon.
How does this relate to my research question? The trend in science communication with the public over recent years has been to move away from science communication – which is a mass market one way process – tell them the truth which we scientists are the authorities on – to public engagement. Learn how the public uses scientific knowledge and how local knowledge can integrate with and enhance scientific knowledge. This implies segmentation – possibly down to the individual marketing level.