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  • Writer's pictureJames Cullen

Is Segmentation Direct Marketing Over?

Direct marketing can be a useful tool. Certainly back in the day (read: 2003), selecting promotional materials for the use in targeting and segmentation campaigns was the way to get your message out there. But since the internet, a lot of this has moved online. It works the same - you see ads for toasters and kettles everywhere you go online if you search for toasters and kettles. But there is one model where broader segementational direct marketing is still done the old fashioned way: free magazines. 

Free magazines work in that they expect a high amount of casual readers and therefore can sell ad space that is likely to be seen by a large quantity of people. Shortlist opts for men's fashion and grooming ads; Stylist for the female equivalents. And trade magazines offered free choose ads that will be apt for a large volume of their readership. 

But broad segmentation in direct marketing can backfire. Just searching for a few too many hen party favours online and before long you'll be advertised by businesses straddling the line of salubriousness. A recent free magazine from a pet store came with four leaflets, which together painted an unflattering image of its expected reader. 

The leaflets were:

  • A leaflet suggesting you leave everything in your will to a dogs' home - because you are single and alone and will die single and alone. 

  • A leaflet asking who will look after your pet when you die - because they will likely find your boys because you will die single and alone. 

  • A 'plus size' clothing leaflet - because you must be plus size, single, and alone. 

  • A healthy food subscription service - because the only way of not being single and alone and discovered dead by cats if by changing your appearance by snacking on healthy nuts and seeds. 

Cynically, this paints a picture of the client of the magazine - and if I felt I were the targeted individual, it would certainly leave a nasty taste in my mouth. While the targeting was most likely innocent, it leaves you wondering how the boxes work when marketing teams decide who their clientele are and attempt to direct market to there segments. 

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