Monday, August 15, 2022

Segmentation Experts?

We, management guys, take a lot of credit for a lot of concepts. A lot of those concepts are those for which all we contributed was a catchy name. Others we defined and practiced, and assumed that we were the best practitioners of those concepts. The problem, though, is that most management concepts have been in practice for ages and the best we have done is refine them and make it possible for people to consciously apply them when appropriate.

Which essentially means that those concepts may well be practiced, and more expertly, by others even though they may not be able to lay down the rules for applying them. Which brings me to the topic of this post - Segmentation.

When you want to sell your product, one of the things that you seek to do is to target your product to the customers most likely to buy them. For that, you take the whole lot of your customers and divide them into segments based on varying criteria - income, gender, nature of the person (conservative, adventurous, value for money, seeking uniqueness...), what have you. Then you target your product to the appropriate segment - middle income women, upper class adventurous men, whatever.

Companies have it easy. I mean, you manage a sizable proportion of your target segment, you have a profitable product. What if you had to do this sort of segmentation, in a winner-take-all scenario, AND based on selling to your target segments you have to cover a majority of ALL customers...what then? And, if there is a profession which operate entirely on that basis, who are the better experts - management experts or...politicians?

Democracy is a nice thing and, ideally, you think of people voting for the best person to serve the nation. When political parties try to market themselves as the 'best people' to voters, it is but natural that they try to offer them what they want. It is no real use to say you will give honest and efficient governance...everyone says that. What is your Unique Selling Proposition?

You try to find what voters want and, as usual, you find that they all want different things. There you go, starting on segmenting your voters. When it is management guys who do it, it is Market Segmentation; when politicians do it, it is called Vote Bank politics.

There you went, people segmenting voters on caste; regional parties invoking regional pride and so on and so forth. AND doing it successfully for so long. Till along came a party which succeeded on using religion successfully as a segmenting tool. And succeeding massively with that.

How do you fight a party which has positioned itself as the champion of a majority religion? Having divided and sub-divided people for so long into differing camps, the idea of NOT being divisive rings hollow from ANY of the existing parties. Still, some fight the divisiveness and the hatred. Some try to climb aboard the same bandwagon and try to position themselves as being equally good for the same market segment.

But, then, you have the others. If you cannot gain a foothold in that market segment, the only way to win is to split that market segment. So, apparently, they have started delving way back into history and finding a way to say that large swathes of the majority religion have actually been gulled into thinking that they belong to it when, in reality, they have been tricked into believing that their real religion is a part of the majority religion.

Hmmm! THAT is a turn for the ages for even the atheistic parties to be seriously worried about the 'real' religion of their voters. I mean, really, it was not too far back when the same lot was arguing, "How far back will you go in history and where will you draw the line about who were the invaders and who is indigenous to India?" Divisiveness is terrible for Society, yes, but the answer to divisive politics cannot be even more matter what the imperatives of segmentation may be!

The time will come, I'm sure, when you and I will be at loggerheads because we descended from different tribes of prehistoric monkeys. THAT will be the day when we celebrate the acme of social segmentation.