As a product person, I’m always interested in segmentation as there’s no such thing as a universal customer with the same characteristics or behavioural traits. There are many different ways to identify and target a specific group within a population, and I came across “psychographic segmentation” as a way of segmenting your target audience.
Psychographic segmentation feels very similar to behavioural segmentation, but it also takes into account some of the psychological aspects involved in buying or using a product. These are some of the factors that you can look at when applying psychographic segmentation:
- Social class – This aspect divides the population into groups based on the income generated by the Chief Income Earner. This factor is taken into account by the UK Office for National Statistics when they work out the “Social Grade” to determine people’s media consumption and purchasing power (I’ve added a more detailed overview of social grades in Fig. 1 below).
- Lifestyle – The key thing that I learned about the lifestyle segmentation model is that there’s no set way of segmenting people based on their lifestyle. There are, however, a number of factors that one can look at. For instance, activities, interest and opinions form a key part of one’s lifestyle. Advertising agency Young & Rubicam invented the so-called 4C model which is often used as a lifestyle classification model. The full name for this model is Cross Cultural Consumer Characterisation and it outlines 7 different personality types and related lifestyles (see Fig. 2 below).
Main learning point: Especially when you’re doing your market research and thinking about the customer segment to concentrate on, psychographic segmentation can be a very valuable tool. It helps you to think about the demographics and behaviours of the target customers that you’re creating a product or service for.
Fig. 1 – “Social Grade” overview – Taken from: http://www.ukgeographics.co.uk/blog/social-grade-a-b-c1-c2-d-e
- Social Grade AB: Higher & intermediate managerial, administrative, professional occupations
- Social Grade C1: Supervisory, clerical & junior managerial, administrative, professional occupations
- Social Grade C2: Skilled manual occupations
- Social Grade DE: Semi-skilled & unskilled manual occupations, Unemployed and lowest grade occupations
Fig. 2 – Young & Rubicam’s 4Cs model – Taken from: https://frameshortfilmjamie.wordpress.com/category/young-and-rubicam-4cs/
- The Explorer – Need for change, discovery and desire to be different.
- The Aspirer – Looks at how others view them, tries products for the visual looks and focuses on their status.
- The Succeeder – Strong goals and tends to be responsible. An aggressive attitude to life as they look for control.
- The Reformer – Intellectual and tolerant. Doesn’t buy products just because they’re new, the reformer looks for enlightenment.
- The Mainstream – Desire to fit in with society. Sticks with value for money, striving for security.
- The Struggler – Has the ‘You Only Live Once’ approach. Focus on the present, looking for a sense of escape.
- The Resigned – Has unchanging values. Is likely to stick with what there’re familiar with.
Related links for further learning:
“What Product Managers Need To Know About Rapid Prototyping” by Mike Fishbein and Josh Wexler is a great ebook for any product manager keen on prototyping before building the actual product. Mike Fishbein is a content manager with Alpha UX and Josh Wexler is a solutions director at Originate. In this book, they’ve collated their learnings and tips with regard to rapid prototyping.
I’m currently learning how to create prototypes, using tools like Balsamiq, Illustrator, InVision and Sketch. Reading “What Product Managers Need To Know About Rapid Prototyping” felt very timely. These are the main things I learnt from it:
- Why do we need a prototype!? – Fishbein and Wexler point out very early on in the book that experiments are critical to alleviate risks inherent in new product or feature development. Prototyping is at the core of experimentation; it provides a quick way to validate your assumptions with real users and tackling key product risks early on in the process. It can be as simple as using a piece of paper with a sketch of a new feature for initial product validation. The main thing is that you use a prototype to mitigate risk by getting feedback early and often in the product (development) lifecycle.
- Why do product managers need to know about prototyping? – Building on the importance of experimentation, Fishbein and Wexler argue that “the product manager’s primary role becomes enabling experimentation as a seamless capability. At the core of experimentation is rapid prototyping.”
- Generative vs evaluative experiments – The distinction between generative and evaluative experiments is an important one. Typically, new products or features will start with “generative” experiments, where it’s all about identifying and assessing customer pain points or problems. In contrast, “evaluative” experiments are used to evaluate different options for a product direction. You’re evaluating a number of ways to resolve a customer pain point that you’ve established during a generative experiment. Rapid prototyping is critical during evaluative experiments.
- Consider constraints when prototyping – Using the words “prototyping” and “constraints” in one sentence might sound like a contradiction in terms, as you might think that prototype means having a free rein. In contrast, it’s important to pay attention to constraints when creating prototypes. The book suggests a number of important questions to ask before creating a prototype (see Fig. 1 below).
- Use a Learning Model, plotting ‘perception of value’ vs ‘simulation of value’ – Fishbein and Wexler describe the perception of value (‘PV’) as “a conglomeration of of metrics that together provide insight into comparative user feedback.” In order words, the higher the PV the better. Simulation of value (‘SV’) shows how close the user is to actually experiencing value. Going back to my earlier example of a simple sketch on a piece of paper; this might generate a high PV, because the user gets the value, but the SV is likely to be very low in comparison. It’s fair to say that higher SV values will generate more reliable user learnings and insights, as the prototype delivers more concrete value to the user.
- Plotting goals and constraints – It was really interesting to learn about plotting goals and constraints when thinking about creating a prototype. A good example of a constraint is “risk-treshold”, which represents the minimum amount of data you need to collect before your business gives the green light for a product. The ‘goal’ element covers the ‘why’ and perceived value of a product.
- Don’t forget about the ‘story’ – In addition to perception and simulation, Fishbein and Wexler also suggest looking at the ‘story’. The story dimension represents a continuum of the user’s narrative and how they might interact with the value proposition of a product. The book talks about about a so-called ‘double dip effect’, This effect typically occurs when product managers succeed in unlocking the ‘story’ element; when iteration cycles are so short that, following positive experiment results, product teams can run another experiment to understand the “why” behind the initial results. The key point here is that when prototyping becomes a rapid process, the product manager will be able to fully learn the narrative of her (target) users.
- Balancing simulation of value with iteration time and resources – Fishbein and Wexler also address some of the tradeoffs inherent in rapid prototyping. They point out that “prototyping lower simulations of value costs less and has shorter iteration cycles than prototyping higher simulations of value.” However, the insights you typically get from lower simulations of value are likely to be less reliable and detailed compared to high simulations of value. I’ve included Fishbein and Wexler’s pointers on how to manage these tradeoffs in Fig. 2 below.
Main learning point: I recommend “What PMs Need To Know About Rapid Prototyping” to any product person who wants to use prototyping as a way to learn quickly and often. Fishbein and Wexler have written a very comprehensive book which provides product managers with a great overview of dos and don’ts with regard to rapid prototyping. This book has definitely helped me in thinking about prototypes in a much more structured way!
Fig. 1 – Sample questions and constraints to consider before creating a prototype – Taken from: Mike Fishbein and Josh Wexler – What Product Managers Need To Know About Rapid Prototyping, pp. 19 – 21
- What’s my or my organisation’s risk or treshold?
- What’s my capability given my current budget?
- What’s my organisation’s domain of discretion?
- Am I over-constraining?
Fig. 2 – Balancing simulation of value with iteration time and resources – Taken from: Mike Fishbein and Josh Wexler – What Product Managers Need To Know About Rapid Prototyping, pp. 54 – 55
- Stay in scope – It’s not about creating beautiful designs for your prototype, the goal is to learn about the user and their interactions with a product’s value proposition as early and often as possible. Staying in scope is therefore a key notion.
- Adapt the methodologies – No (prototyping) methodology is set in stone. Instead, Fishbein and Wexler recommend understanding the high-level purpose of each prototyping step and then adapting it to your organisation.
- Select technology that supports your best practices – When it comes prototyping, there’s a thousand and one tools to choose from. The important part is to make sure that prototyping is an efficient and waste-reducing mechanism for learning about users and validating new product concepts.
Related links for further learning: