I am a terrible shopper. It is not that I’m incapable of shopping, I just dislike it intensely. My mother-in-law is just the opposite. She goes shopping as a form of entertainment. She floats around the stores spotting deals with a keen eye. She coupon clips, she watches the circulars for sales and she browses (I hate browsing, it makes me weak in the knees). On the other hand when I have to pick something up, I dart into the store and tunnel vision my way to the necessary item. I then scuttle to checkout pausing briefly to swipe my credit card and then race to the parking lot and… freedom!
As a retailer I may want to segment my shoppers by the categories I can easily put my fingers on. Young verses old. Fixed income verses wealthy. Living within 2 miles or 10 miles. But those kind of descriptions do not do much to explain the difference in this kind of shopping behavior. More and more we see retailers segment on a hierarchy of behavior or preferences or problems. I’m likely the strictly-necessity-shopper while my mother-in-law is the sale-influenced-browser. Knowing this the retailer can pick who they want to serve and plan how to serve them best.
Like retailers, associations serve a wide variety of audiences. Young and old, people of various professions, who work for various size companies and have a variety of titles. In fact many associations focus on broad subsegments within a profession or industry. And this is a valuable start. A CEO has different needs than a VP of HR.
Going one step further, we typically see segment-able behavior, preferences or problems within our classically defined member categories. We may see members who are far more entrepreneurial than most. We may see members who are more forward thinking than most. We may see members who are more willing to experiment than most. We may see members who are more invested in solving a big industry problem than most. Sometimes we see the reverse: those who are checked out, those who are happily administratively focused or those who are burnt out and angry.
Start with the segmenting you can do with the association’s data and surveys. Learn who your best members are and how they interact with the association. When you have completed that, let’s talk about qualitative methods of member research to uncover the behavior, preference and problem segments. We’ll learn more about our best members, what their challenges are and what they worry about most as they look into the future. With this information we provide more value to those members that love the association the most and we will then attract more members just like them.