Circle is an expert in B2B market segmentation research.  Through a programme of primary research we’ll:

Over the last decade, we’ve conducted business-to-business (B2B) market segmentation research for dozens of world-leading brands, such as Global Blue, Maersk, Premier Farnell and Vodafone.  We couple this extensive experience with a suite of smart research techniques which probe far beyond the superficial, and tools which bring the segmentation to life and embed it into your everyday processes.

The result is research which makes a real difference.

Guiding principles

Over the last decade we’ve segmented the markets of dozens of world-leading business-to-business (B2B) brands.  Based on this extensive experience we’ve developed an approach which transforms how the target market is viewed and makes a real commercial impact.  Our approach to B2B market segmentation has eight key features:

Real: Market segments need to meet three criteria.  They need to be meaningful (grouped on dimensions that influence how you’ll approach them), distinct (each segment needs to be clearly different to others) and sizeable (each segment needs to be large enough to justify its existence).  Adhering to these rules creates a market segmentation which gives a clear focus to commercial action.

Art: The first step in any market segmentation process is to really get under the skin of customers through a series of qualitative research engagements. Beginning with this exploratory approach will ensure the final market segmentation model is based on the right foundations and can be brought to life with real-life examples.

Science: It’s essential that, whilst guided by qualitative insights, the final market segmentation model is based on hard data as this gives a definitive view and allows segments to be sized and profiled.  In doing so, multiple data sources should be used as this ensures that the market segmentation reflects all the dimensions that matter – survey data on behaviours, needs and attitudes should be coupled with internal data on customers such as purchase history, spend and profitability.  Furthermore, spotting patterns in this data with the human eye is impossible, so it’s critical to use sophisticated statistical tools which identify market segments and profile them on multiple levels.

Prioritised: Not all market segments are equally attractive – they differ in size, value, profitability and growth potential.  Identifying the commercial potential of each segment allows attractive segments to be prioritised.

Actionable: This isn’t an academic exercise – once developed, a segmented approach needs to be used.  The biggest challenge here is changing how colleagues view the customer, especially if they’re used to a more straightforward feature based segmentation (e.g. based on company size).  As such, great care needs to be taken to get their buy-in to a new approach.  There are three critical steps in doing so.  One, they need to be persuaded that it’s a better way.  Two, segments need to be carefully communicated and brought to life so that they’re understood and recognisable.  And three, people need to be given the tools to use the market segmentation on a day-to-day basis.

Findable: If a segment or segments are to be targeted then you need a way to find them.  To enable this, each market segment should be profiled using features which allow you to identify them in real-life, e.g. segment A is most likely to be found in the Healthcare, Manufacturing and Financial Services sectors.

Embedded: To fully benefit from a market segmentation, it needs to underpin all of your activity.  Magic Questions are invaluable here.  This small set of questions can instantly place any individual into a segment with a high degree of accuracy.  These questions can be used in ‘real-time’ by sales staff and if embedded into your CRM can personalise your marketing activity.

Flexible: Understanding similarities is as important as understanding differences.  Sometimes it’s not possible, or desirable, to tailor an activity to each segment.  In these situations, a generic approach needs to be taken which has cross-segment appeal.  The market segmentation model should, therefore, identify common ground shared by all.

B2B market segmentation research

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A selection of our case studies

We identified the winning logo re-design for management consultant, PA Consulting.

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“Circle did a great job. They engaged our hard-to-reach target market and helped optimise the logo design.”

We designed and run insurance broker JLT’s annual client satisfaction programme.

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“I would totally recommend Circle to anyone else who is looking to carry out a B2B research project.”

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