Imagine you have a snack brand. And Mark here is one of your potential consumers. He doesn’t buy your brand currently. How would you segment this world to help you get to him?
Mark is 32. He lives with his partner, Sophie, in Reading. They have a 3-year-old daughter called Molly and a dog called Bill. Bill’s his mate. He’s the only one in the house who’ll watch Arsenal with him.
Mark’s a plumber for a local company run by Alan, a friend of his Dad’s. Sophie used to be a teacher at a local school, but she’s taking a break until Molly starts. The only thing is she really wants another baby.
Today starts early. The alarm goes at 5.45 am and he slides out of bed without disturbing Sophie. Quick shower to wake himself up, dress and then downstairs for a cup of tea and some breakfast.
On a good day, it might be one of those Oat So Simples with a bit of honey, although he gets a hard time for leaving the pan in the sink. Other days it’s Cheerio’s. He sits at the island. It’s one of his favourite times of the day.
He makes a quick sandwich, cheese, refills the water bottle he keeps in the van, because mineral water is a rip-off and a waste of plastic, and picks up a bag of Molly’s Hula Hoops too, because that’s all there is.
Then it’s back upstairs with a cup of tea for Sophie, a quick peck on the cheek for Molly, who’s just starting to stir, and off.
It’s good because the office is only 15 minutes away, so he’s there by 7. Bit of a chat but everyone’s cracking on as first appointments are always 8 am. That’s Alan for you. Today he’s got loads of jobs, too many, so it’s going to be full-on.
He makes it to the first one by 8.10 am and it’s changing over a dishwasher. Takes him just over an hour because it’s fiddly. He’s on his way by 9.30 am. Good start.
He stops for fuel. Doesn’t bother with a coffee because he should get one at the next job, with a bit of luck. Out of the corner of his eye he sees something called Digestive Nibbles. What’s that, biscuit crumbs?
Coffee at the next job? Fat chance. He thinks about asking for one but she’ll probably then complain if he goes over the hour.
11 o'clock, he’s done. Now he needs a snack. Should have got something at the garage. He could start on the sandwiches but then he’ll need to buy some more and every penny counts at the moment, till Sophie goes back to work. So it’s the Hula Hoops. He drives along, seeing if he can still whistle “Yanky Doodle” through the hole.
Anyway, hooray, next job he gets his coffee! Nice customer. It’s a problem with the pilot on the boiler and there’s a bit of a rattle from somewhere. She’s no idea how old it is.
God, it looks pre-war! He’s going to have to have ‘the chat’. He tries to break it to her gently, but when he says £2,000 all the colour drains from her face. Bad timing, obviously. But it’s bloody cold and she’s got small kids. He says he’ll come back later to do a proper quote. All he needs today.
Phew, time for lunch. Except he’s eaten the crisps. Can’t have a sandwich without crisps. Luckily, there’s a corner shop. Walker’s or McCoy’s? McCoy’s, better for lunch. Walker’s are like air. One of those Eat Natural bars, too. He sees those Digestive Nibbles again, McVities. Why not, could be a long afternoon.
Back in the van, he’s on Facebook when the phone rings. Next customer was promised before 1 pm, it’s 1.30 pm now and the guy's got to get to work. So, lunch on the run then, as usual. Mark wolfs down the sandwiches, eats the crisps, saves the bar. He manages to get there by 1.50 pm.
It’s a leak, so they’ve had no water since last night. Easy to fix but the man’s really pissed off. Not my fault, pal. Anyway, no coffee, not much of a thanks and a real moan about it being £100. Charming.
How many to go? Just one plus that quote on the way home. He calls Sophie to check in, has a chat with Molly and promises he’ll be home to read her a story. Should be OK.
But he’s flagging. Always happens this time. Time for that Eat Natural bar. It’s not really the natural bit, although Sophie’s keen on all that. He just loves the yogurt coating. That’s better, bit of sugar.
The only thing is it’s not quite chocolate. He really wants some chocolate. Maybe a couple of those Nibbles will do the trick. It’s a bit of a drive to the next one, near Chippenham.
Time for the radio. They’re nice, those Nibbles.
Just his luck, another stroppy customer. They always get worse as the day goes on, must be the waiting around. Takes ages too, so he doesn’t leave until after 5 pm. Long day but just need to get that quote done. Push on. He risks the M4.
Big mistake. Where’s everyone going? He’s getting peckish now, lunch seems ages ago. At least he’s got those Nib…oh no, finished! He doesn’t even remember eating them.
Back to the Frozen family for the quote. Really they need a couple of new radiators too, which means nearer £2,500. The husband wants a deal. He calls Alan but he’s not answering. He’d probably say no. Mark throws in one of the radiators for free. Deal.
He pulls into the drive at 7 pm and rushes in. Bill’s waiting by the door, as always, and Molly comes charging down in her pyjamas, followed by Sophie. Looks like someone else has had a long day.
So just time for ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and Molly’s favourite bit with the butterfly. Then lights out.
Sophie’s cooking when he gets downstairs. Wine, they both need wine. And something with it, he can’t wait. He’d go for crisps with houmous, but Sophie saw him coming, she’s already chopped up some carrots. Anyway, that would make it three packets today. Not that he worries about that, well, a bit, but she does and he doesn’t play five-a-side any more, not since Molly.
They compare notes on whose day has been more exhausting and declare it a draw. The stir fry’s delicious and the two of them plus Bill settle down on the sofa, him with another glass of wine and cheese and biscuits, her with a yogurt, that new one she likes, Liberté, and Bill with a Dentastix. Last half of Coronation Street, then it’s ‘The Crown’ on Netflix which they love. They’re both asleep by halfway through.
So how would you segment a world like this?
Would you start with Who? After all, Mark is a Millenial. Only joking.
But lifestage and income? Mark’s life has obviously changed a fair bit since Molly.
Maybe attitude to snacking? Difficult, Mark’s attitudes change during the day. That’s one of the reasons pen portraits never sound like real people.
What about What, as in 'instead of what'? Certainly the consideration set keeps on shifting.
Or is it all about When? And Where? Those different moments.
Or Why? How many needs did you count?
For me, all five W’s are almost always important.
But if I were going to segment here, it would be by What and Why. But I'd mean What in terms of what people actually do. And then why they do it. Behaviour and motivation.
Different deeds, different needs.