Whatever happened to WASPS, YUPPIES and DINKS?


Segmentation has come a long way since we used these broad demographic identifiers. White Anglo Saxon Protestant  was probably most useful as a character profile for “Caddy Shack”; Young Urban Professionals got older and moved to the suburbs and Dual Income No Kids was a quaint subset of YUPPIE. 

While trends in broadly targeted demographics still persist (Millennials, Mom’s and Boomers are now the hot mega-segments), most savvy marketers are realizing that these large segments have very different financial and health needs, personal lifestyles and attitudes toward politics, religion, healthcare, etc. Marketers and companies seeking to be more customer-centric need much deeper levels of customer insight than just demographics to build a bond of brand trust and affinity with their customers.

Data analytics now gives us the power to identify and profile most valuable customers, most grow-able customers and the customers who most need what a company has to offer. And attitudinal segmentation is also becoming important to brand image developers and customer experience designers and as well as loyalty and relationship marketers.  

Why is segmentation important for brand development?  McKinsey and Company’s Marketing Practice published a white paper entitled “Building Strong Brands, Better Faster and Cheaper”.  In this thorough and detailed guide they propose a new approach that “fuses superior customer insights, future economic potential, and reinforcing organizational capability”.

And Razorfish in their 2010 Outlook Report asserts that “uncovering the most essential truth about a product — what consumers think of it — is less difficult than it used to be. Social monitoring tools provide a clear sense of how consumers perceive brands. And getting to the truth today is fast —feedback from the marketplace is more rapid than ever”.

McKinsey outlines a clear methodology for identifying high-value customers, analyzing future revenue potential for these customer segments, and then creating the value proposition that appeals to these important current and future segments. Brand development methods that are “Better, Faster and Cheaper” can also build more successful brands if you follow their approach and don’t waste time and money trying to create a brand platform that appeals to everyone.

It’s also important to a brand’s success to build high-value customer segmentation into Brand Experience Creation.

As Linda Ireland says in her book “Domino – How Customer Experience Can Tip Everything in Your Business toward Better Financial Performance” you should first ask: “What problem is your brand uniquely qualified to solve for your best customer?” The answer to this question is the foundation of your customer experience and your brand promise.

Bruce Tempkin, guru of all things Customer Experience has recently reported on his blog that defining and delivering a clear brand promise to key customer segments is one of the four key competencies that companies need to master in order to create and sustain superior customer/brand experiences.

This is not your father’s brand campaign. “Mad Men” may make us nostalgic for simplistic demographic segments (like “housewives”) and months of a creative team crafting the “Big Brand Idea” but we’re not the broad, static demographic segments we once thought we were. And we can be much more in touch with our customers as their needs change than ever before – if we build ongoing segment analysis and prioritization into all our communications and customer experience management practices.

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2 Responses to “Whatever happened to WASPS, YUPPIES and DINKS?”

  1. raybrown99 Says:

    Hi Ann I’ve just heard Axel Schultze speak at a breakfast today in Melbourne, really interesting material. If I paraphrase him, there is no such thing as social marketing only social sales. His reasoning is that every person is now an individual and getting the information they need by pull not push. Is segmentation reducing in importance because the balance of power has moved decisively from supplier to customer ? Perhaps the best segmentation is to find the place where your best customers gather and engage.

  2. Ann O'Daniel Says:

    Thanks for the comment Ray, I still think companies need to define their “brand story” in order to differentiate their “brand” of great customer service from others’ brands. Think of Zappos or
    Trader Joe’s, Apple or Virgin. All have distinct brand stories AND great customer experience. I fear good experience can become commoditized too without a good brand story. Many brands still think branding is a totally inside-out activity. You suggest how that is changing with social networking and I agree.
    What I’m suggesting is that companies need to know what core values define their culture and value to their best customers and then practice living those brand values at all customer interactions. You are not wrong but in our excitement about customer engagement we shouldn’t lose sight of the need for a brand to create distinctive memories that become interchangeable with the brand image.

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