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THE NEXT: Re-thinking Customer Segmentation


The Next will explore healthcare market trends and offer insights into the industry.

Welcome to the first installment of a new monthly column, The Next, where we’ll be exploring not only market trends, but also offering what we hope will be insightful commentary. This month’s column focuses on customer segmentation, and how it can be modified to best serve the interests of your brand.

To level set, all brands in the healthcare space perform a market analysis of the different ways that both healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients think, feel, and act when considering a particular medical condition. These segments are often given names to capture the essence of their belief status: action-takers, say, or doctor-deniers. But this traditional model assumes that segmentation is static and unchanging. In fact, after they are exposed to a campaign and to the brand itself over time, customers may migrate from one segment to the next. Capturing the framework of such a concept will help marketers understand how to align strategies and activate ideas to move customers along the continuum of beliefs and behaviors. This is where Mindspace Mapping comes in.

Mindspace Mapping doesn’t concern itself with any particular demographics such as age, race, or gender, but instead eliminates those characteristics to focus specifically on what customers believe about their relationship to the brand. Here are the steps:

1. Conduct quantitative research that captures beliefs: how do HCPs and/or patients feel about themselves as they relate to using or taking interest in a particular brand?

2. Break out different beliefs into Mindspace in a linear progression, moving left to right, from beliefs that are least engaged to those that are most engaged. Using the research quantifications, assign percentages of people for what they believe now. See Figure 1 as an illustration of concept.

Figure 1. Levels of Engagement

As you can see, the majority of beliefs may be in place pre-launch or at launch. Customers may be “satisfied” and not looking for a new therapeutic modality at all. You ultimately want them to be “devoted” to your brand, but customers won’t make the leap between the first Mindspace and the last. A migration must occur.

3. Create an overarching brand promise designed to set the migration in motion from left to right. For example, the brand could promise to accelerate treatment instead of watchful waiting.

4. Create strategies for moving from one Mindspace to another, and then put forth brand experience materials (promotion, education, etc.) that deliver on the strategies. (Figure 2)

Figure 2. Strategies for Moving Mindspace

5. Field the brand experience materials, then conduct quantitative research after a period of six to nine months to assess how you’ve changed beliefs, as evidenced by the changes in percentages along the Mindspace Map.

Managing your brand performance in this manner allows you to see your customers through the lens of changing beliefs over time. It also curates your brand equity so that your investments in marketing today will accrue over time, and not just be one-size-fits-all campaigns every year.

The Mindspace Map also functions to create tactics specific from one Mindspace to another. In the stage at which you establish migration strategies (Figure 2 above), identify barriers that inhibit the strategies. Then you can focus specifically on fielding tactics designed to overcome the barriers. Depending on which Mindspace captures your attention, you can assign budget numbers to those tactics and know who and how many customers to move over time.

The right marketing plan for your brand should always start with customer beliefs because you cannot change behaviors without changing beliefs. Let this methodology make a believer out of you.

About the Author

Vince Parry, a 30-year veteran of the health and wellness communications industry, is the EVP of Brand Strategy at the Truth Serum NTWK™, a company of MJH Life Sciences.™ He can be reached at [email protected].

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