Why “The End Of Segmentation” Is Big News In 2016

This set of predictions for 2016, collected in Inc., is interesting for a number of reasons - and not just because they fit almost perfectly with the way Swrve sees the world. Although yes, we wouldn't be sharing them with you if they didn't! There's a lot of great stuff in here, but it's particularly notable that at least five of these ten predictions relate to segmentation in some way shape or form.

It's no secret that segmentation is the secret behind successful marketing. It always has been. In fact you could argue that the history of the discipline is the history of ever more sophisticated targeting and segmentation - certainly more than it is a history of new communications techniques. It's very tempting to judge marketing activity and products on the basis of what they do, but in fact far more important to consider how sophisticated they are when it comes to who they do it to

Take the most obvious mobile example, the push notification. There are lots of ways to send push notifications out there. But the ability to send a push notification is in reality almost irrelevant. Sending a push notification to an entire database is in all likelihood more damaging than it is beneficial. So the question to really ask your marketing department, or a marketing tech vendor, is "tell me how I define the audiences I can send these notifications to". That's where the magic happens, and the answer to that question is usually 

Hang On - The END Of Segmentation?

Fair question. If segmentation is so wonderful, why on earth would we bid it farewell? Well, for the same reason that we voluntarily get rid of anything: we've found something better. As automation, machine learning and big data come together, we've reached a point where the genuine 'campaign of one' is a reality. As consumers, we are no longer members of segments. We are individuals, and marketers are at last able to treat us that way (at this point most owners of a mobile phone are probably breathing a sigh of relief. Yes, it's going to get better!

Ultimately marketers want to talk to people. 'Segments' have only ever been a poor substitute for conversation at the individual level, and so it's interesting to see so many industry players predicting the rise of the technology and attitudes that will make that happen. Ultimately segments are a remanent of 'desktop world'. They still have their place, of course - but in the always on and ultra-personal world of mobile, conversation at the individual level should always be the goal.