When we talk about the importance of geography in market research, it is often in terms of segmentation. Common concerns include: where to initiate a product launch, open a new branch, or where and how to focus one’s marketing efforts. It’s all about location, distance, and proximity.
However, geographic segmentation by itself confines our research data. It does not provide in-depth insight into the customer base. For an extensive understanding of our customer base and insights to shape marketing plans, we look to persona development.
So, how does where customers live affect persona development? Location can tell us a lot about who is living there. Harnessing this information is essential to developing a transformative marketing strategy based on accurate and effective persona development.
Understanding Geographic Differences
People from all walks of life are drawn to different places for a variety of reasons: whether it’s the magnetic pull of money, fame & power, some fun & sun, a solid business, education & family community, or good old rest & relaxation. Understanding what differentiates one place from another is important. Climate, size of the potential market (i.e. population), demographics, and access to technology are some important factors to consider.
These factors interact with one another to produce a geographic subculture which substantively delineates one group from another. People who are closer together in distance tend to share similar cultural characteristics, that is to say people prefer to live with other like-minded individuals. Capturing these socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic differences enables us to understand not only who these people are, but also what they are doing and where they are headed.
Population and Demographics
Demographics are always an important consideration for any marketing research project. Knowing who is interested in your product, what they value, and how their location impacts purchasing choices is essential. Like-minded groups tend to cluster together so developing a targeted geographic and demographic marketing campaign is both cost efficient and effective.
Understanding more about the customer base equips us with a roadmap of our current and potential market destinations. Having this knowledge allows us to map out where we are going as well as plan for roadblocks along the way.
In addition, the overall size of the market is also a factor. There needs to be enough of the target market there to justify investing a lot of money in one location.
Access to Technology
Availability of and access to various technologies mean more opportunities to engage with potential customers. When consumers possess internet capabilities on their mobile phone, tablet, and laptop, there are a myriad of possible interactions and opportunities for branding.
Geography affects access to and availability of technology. Rural regions, characterized by wide open spaces, have the potential risk of spotty mobile coverage. The more isolated the locale, the less likely high-speed internet is available. This, in turn, affects the local culture by slowing down the pace of life and by limiting opportunities for customer engagement. Certain regions only accept a few channels of advertising inputs.
In a metropolitan city, there are a greater number of inputs - from billboards, to television commercials and the world wide web. While the opportunities are more available, the competition is also stiffer because the potential market size and profits are high.
Climate is one of the most defining characteristics of any environment. A cold and gray city feels unwelcoming and often affects its citizens’ attitudes and behavior, whereas a warm and green locale is associated with friendliness and hospitality. Climate does not determine the local culture, but it does have heavy influence in a fundamental way.
From a purely economic perspective, climate is an important consideration for seasonal product sales. Snow boots and beach hats are not often sold together in the same month. The timing of the winter and summer seasonal items are very crucial and a miscalculation could mean a loss of many dollars.
The Potential Impacts
We have to assume that wherever we take our products, we may encounter both people who are accepting of it and people who are not interested in what we have to offer. However, taking into account physical geography helps us to understand our audience and adjust to their needs. Some places are multicultural and others are more homogenous. Some places are animal friendly, others are not. People in different areas dress differently. All of these moving parts affect the social fabric of daily interactions.
When we complete the research and have a deeper understanding of our audience and their needs in a specific region, we can market more effectively to that audience. It gives us the knowledge we need to shape marketing campaigns, product design and more.
Why is this important?
This process allows us to create accurate representations (i.e. personas) of different groups of people based on a variety of characteristics. These personas form the image of what a potential customer would look like as well as provide insight into what motivates their consumer decision making.
The primary advantage of these personas is that they live on after the projects that created them. They take form, evolve, and are updated, and can then be used to inform future business decisions.
Using Market Research
So, what to do? We need to be armed with strategic marketing tactics, which enable us to understand the lay of the land. This includes both segmentation and persona development. Commissioning marketing research provides the roadmap to your destination, and the points out the potential pitfalls (and rest stops) along the way. So come along and see where your next product leads!