Article:  Who are your customers?  Targeting customers through segmentation and persona development

What is segmentation?

In essence, market segmentation is a high-level way of grouping and differentiating a broader target market. The 4 typical ways of segmenting a market include demographics, geographics, psychographics and behaviours.

Why is segmentation important?

Not all customers are the same! In every market, there will be groups of customers with different needs and motivations.

Segmentation is therefore an important tool that can be used by sales and marketing teams to tailor their offering to different market needs.

Using the S-T-P approach (Segmentation à Targeting à Positioning), a company or brand can use their segmentation to target their efforts to the most attractive customer groups; then create positioning and communication strategies to best meet the segment’s needs.

In the pharma world, we know that prescribing decisions are made for different reasons by different HCPs. For example, one HCP may be looking for new, innovative treatment options whereas another may be looking for the easiest mode of administration for the patient; one HCP may strictly follow guidelines but another will use their own experience to guide treatment choice.

What is persona development?

Persona development has long been a practice in consumer and business-to-business markets; however, it is being used more and more in pharma to better understand HCPs, patients, and even carers.

Persona development takes segments, or groups of customers, to a deeper level of understanding, bringing them to life by turning high-level segments into concrete ‘people’ with clear goals, pain points, motivations, and behaviours.

The benefit of this is, that when embedded into the organisation, internal stakeholders will have the person in mind when developing strategies and tactics. For example, they can say “What would ‘Dr. Helen’ think of this” to ensure any marketing/communications meet her needs.

How to approach segmentation and persona development?

If time and budget are no object (which often isn’t the case!) the ideal approach is done in 3 stages (see right). However, this approach can be easily adapted as needed based on time, budget, and existing knowledge.

But… whilst segmentation is a great place to start when thinking about developing personas, it isn’t always necessary. A company may already have personas in mind they want to create based on internal knowledge and previous research.

In this case, an internal workshop with multiple stakeholders from different functions can be used to create the personas e.g. marketing, sales, medical affairs, market access, etc. This can be done as a standalone workshop; however, it is good practice to follow up the workshop outcomes with customer research – either qualitatively, quantitatively or both.

Final thoughts

It’s all well and good spending time developing a segmentation and/or personas but the true value is in the implementation. The most important part of segmentation and persona development is buy-in from internal stakeholders.

At 7i Group, we believe that internal stakeholders should be brought along the journey, with their input included at all key stages. In order for your segmentation or personas to deliver you the best return on investment, they must be embedded within the organisation and be actionable for the sales and marketing teams.

Get in touch with our Research Director, Melanie Rankin to discuss how we can support you:


Melanie Rankin
Melanie RankinResearch Director
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