The Era of Broad Target Segmentation Is Over

game pieces moving on a board

By Taryn Jones Laeben, Operating Partner, Victress Capital

As U.S. demographics shift and our society demands more diverse representation of all kinds, savvy marketers are moving away from segmenting the market broadly into categories like age, race and gender. The lines between these categories and others, are quickly blurring and the savviest brands are finding new opportunities at the intersection of these groups.

Recent data tells the story of our growing diversity: according to the latest census numbers reported in the New York Times, the number of non-Hispanic Americans who identify as multiracial has jumped by 127% over the past decade. And according to another study by the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, the number of LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. identifying as nonbinary is now 1.2 million.

The ways in which consumers identify themselves has grown increasingly complex. Here’s how to focus on consumer needs or desires, rather than on general assumptions about what binds people together.

Understand What Your Consumers Need Today

Everyone is a consumer and consumers are always evolving and changing. Look at what is really driving your consumers: What do they need right now?

Many consumers emerged from the pandemic with even more enthusiasm for categories that support their desire to live better, healthier and more connected lives. They are searching for brands that can help them find balance and purpose.

Brands that can convey an understanding of the customer as a whole human being and meet their needs on an emotional, physical and intellectual level, will be most successful.

Leverage Opportunities to Broaden Your Community

Seek out your most committed consumers and those who may not have had a voice in the conversation yet. Founders who are willing to change paradigms around equity and access are the ones who will successfully disrupt the market.

Take the time to listen to your consumers and identify where there is an unmet opportunity. Those brands that can approach their consumers with an open mind and a truly inclusive mindset will be able to anticipate and adapt to their shifting needs and build an enormous amount of loyalty and community flywheel.

Partner Up

After two years of physical separation, we are starved for connection and shared purpose. Consumers identify with companies whose values align with theirs and who will deliver a sense of community and belonging, especially now.

Smart brands are working together to create a larger community of consumers with shared values.  Some of my favorite examples in our portfolio include Parade, Juicy Couture, Summersalt, and The Home Edit. Don’t overlook creative partnerships that can broaden your audience and deepen your connections.

Get Creative with Data

Re-examine how the shift to digital is impacting your business. Consumers continue to move more aspects of their daily lives to the digital world, whether it’s through new online shopping experiences, next gen social media tools, or remote work.

But with the waning influence of third-party cookies and stricter government regulations on data privacy, marketers have to get more creative to learn about their customers. To reach your audience successfully, you’ll need to use market data as inspiration, and couple it with impactful, human-centered content that consistently and continually meets consumers where they are.

As the nation continues to diversify, brands must broaden their ideas of a target audience. They must move away from defining their consumers in traditional, broad segments like Gen Z or Gen X and understand the diverse range of individual needs. Then, brands must amplify their values in new and creative ways in order to sustain the sense of purpose and belonging that keeps people committed for the long haul.

About the Author

Taryn Jones Laeben is the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of SoulCycle, the revolutionary indoor cycling brand, founded in New York City in 2006. Before her time at SoulCycle, Taryn was the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Casper, the fast-growing sleep company, where she led rapid expansion across retail, wholesale, partnerships, customer experience, and strategy at large.

Prior to joining start-up Casper, Taryn spent many years generating industry leading results in fashion & retail.

Taryn led NYC-based jewelry brand Alexis Bittar as President after having run the North America and International businesses for Kate Spade New York as Senior Vice President of North America and Vice President of International, respectively. At Kate Spade New York, Taryn led multi channel growth across 120+ retail stores, 500+ points of wholesale distribution, and the e-commerce channel.

She was a key member of the executive team that lead Kate Spade New York to become the eponymous global lifestyle brand it is today.

About Victress

Victress Capital is an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in high-growth companies meeting the needs of the evolving consumer market.

Victress provides visionary and diverse founding teams in the consumer space with capital and resources for growth. Founded in 2016, Victress has invested in more than 25 leading tech-enabled brands and services including Daily Harvest, Summersalt, Droplette and Alyce.