A Practical Approach to Segmentation in the Medical Device Market

The Set Up

It just occurred to me that I had not completed the STP market trilogy. This post will introduce the concept of segmentation, the S in STP marketing. As a reminder the S-T-P in STP marketing stands for Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning.

Segmentation Defined

  • Segmentation is a methodology to cluster customers with similar buyer behavior (i.e., desired experiences, behaviors) into meaningful groups that can be differentially targeted with unique marketing mixes

Why should we segment the market at all?

  • Segmentation can be a significant source of competitive advantage
    • If you can “see” and “act on” a group of customers — that competitors “don’t see” — you can quickly gain advantage
    • If you segment the same way as competitors you give up a very big potential source of competitive advantage

Segmentation Challenge

Of the three, segmentation has the most potential to set you apart in a significant way from your competition. Segmentation is also the most difficult to do well.   It’s potential comes from the fact that you can segment a market in a large number of ways:

  • Geographically
  • Technology
  • Customer persona
    • Customer type(s)
    • Customer charaturistic(s)
    • Customer preference(s)
    • Customer buying behavior
    • Customer attitude
    • Customer demographics
  • Therapeutic method
  • Care facility type
  • Price point
  • Distribution channel

The difficulty comes from having so many choices. How do you know which way is best for you? Difficulty also comes from the fact that you are likely to use multiple segmentation schemes for different reasons. The segmentation choice I am referring to here is to optimize your product based segmentation. In other words, how will segmenting the market help in my defining or selling the product that I currently am developing.

Segmentation Schemes

To select a segmentation scheme it must be: Meaningful and Actionable. See the table below for an example. Typically you would brainstorm the demand side variables and then score them with type of method.




For each segment you need to consider:

  • Size?
  • Competitive implications?
  • How this might drive future success?
  • How these might box you in?
  • Is there a pathway for future growth?
  • Is it possible to prioritize the segments?
  • What are the channel implications?

Key Lessons

  • Segmentation can help you see your customers differently than competition.
  • Segments must be meaningful and actionable.
  • Segmentation must lead to a targeting that works with your current sales force or be prepared to change it.

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. www.theexperiagroup.com. Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

© 2017, The Experia Group, LLC