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Article: Comparing apples and oranges: Is a global segmentation transferable?

Marc Yates, September 2018

Comparing apples and orangesIs a global segmentation transferableWhen our clients are considering primary market research in emerging markets they typically face two challenges - a lack of good local data and budget.

The absence of reliable and up-to-date information in emerging markets should mean that a greater budget is allocated to primary market research. However, in reality the opposite is true. Consequently, our clients want to know if they can tailor global studies to reflect the nuances of different emerging markets.

A good example is with segmentation studies. Increasingly we are being asked whether we can evaluate how accurately a global segmentation solution reflects an individual market without repeating the whole study. While a solution can be developed, it involves a degree of compromise. If budget allows, we recommend that the original segmentation approach is replicated, allowing for local market factors to be considered. However, we live in the real world and budgets do not always allow this. So we have developed a hybrid solution using the foundation of the global segmentation solution and adpating it to reflect the local market.

To validate the segmentation, we have developed a protocol consisting of the following four steps:

1. Definition phase
We review existing segment definitions with key client stakeholders at a regional and local market level. The aim is to achieve alignment and feedback on suitability of segments for each of the emerging markets in the study. We recommend involving different roles across  the company (e.g. Sales, Marketing and Medical) in this consultation phase.

2. Segmentation typing tool trial
A typing tool is a list of 5-10 questions which are highly predictive in identifying which segment a respondent belongs to. If a typing tool already exists, we will trial the typing tool amongst a sample of external respondents withing the emerging market. If there isn't a typing tool, we will create one using discriminant analysis. Based on this data, we will size each segment and highlight potential segment differences within the emerging market

3. Qualitative deep dive
We will recruit a sample of physicians from each of the final segments (identified from typing trial) and conduct in-depth qualitative interviews to validate any meaningful local market differences by segment. Reactions to the client's target product profile and targeted messaging can also be explored at this stage.

4. Delivery
Finally, we pull all the information together to develop a hybrid segmentation that truly reflects the local market and is actionable. This typically involves developing customer portraits of all priority segments and developing a segment appropriate communication plan. We will work with the sales team to refine the segment identification tool to ensure that it can be used by the sales force to profile each of their customers and to deliver the appropriate messages.

Using this approach, we believe global segmentation solutions can be adapted to accurately reflect the emerging markets of interest. The key critical success factor is to engage and work in partnership with the Global / Regional and local market teams, building on the knowledge held within the organisation and developing a hybrid approach, aligning the global strategy with the local environment.

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