Segmenting Perth (One Street At A Time)

In Melbourne, my morning routine is pretty simple – runners on, select podcast of choice, walk for an hour in peace and quiet – same time, same route; job done.  So in Perth this week, found an equivalent path, and embarked on what I thought would be the same process.

That was until I discovered the Perth hospitality … as a man of numbers, I can confidently say that 75% of the people that I walked past said hello to me – 3 in 4 for those less confident with maths.  This was despite the fact my headphones were clearly in sight and in use, regardless of whether I tried to divert my gaze – Western Australians like to engage.

The pressure of having to acknowledge and return the favour was relentless and I found myself not listening to the audio of the podcast, more focused on whether a return smile would supplement an audible reply.  It was this that triggered my switch from podcast to music, allowing me to focus less on what I was listening to and opened my eyes to types of people around me.

Last year, The Interpreters did amazing segmentation work – we started the year in the U.S. creating segments such as the Aloof Avoiders and Securely Savvy and ended with the fantastic Inspirational Izzy and Fun Fi. Our approach to segmentation is normally to start with the qualitative research – get under the skin of the consumers of interest and start to hypothesize where differences exists, what motivations each tribe have and where do certain people exist in the market so clients can be more strategic and targeted.

It should come as no surprise that I started to segment my fellow participants while walking along Victoria Avenue in Claremont.

It started pretty easily as there were three distinct tribes: the walkers, the cyclists and the runners.  The latter group were the minority – representing less than 5% of the early morning population.  Could have created sub segments based on running with a dog (canine motivation) versus running by self, but you can’t do much when segments becomes too small so left them as is.

Then looked to the cyclists and easily split them into lycra and non lycra.  It was not just their apparel that differentiated the latter group, their lesser quality bikes, their lower speed and frankly their happiness.  But it was the lycra sub-segment where I saw differences within and very much based on their behaviour.  There was the solo cyclist, the group of two and then the groups of 4+.  Same types of bikes, same commitment in their cycling attire but I wondered whether their motivations for being on Victoria Street differed.  As you do in qualitative research, you hypothesize, so in my head, each group had different motivations for putting the pedal to the metal.

In my mind, those cycling alone had woken up this morning and thought “I’m going for a ride” – internally motivated and passive whereas the motivation for the group of two was much more “let’s go for a ride” – social aspect and ultimate reward.  Lastly, the bigger groups were motivated more aggressively with the “we’re going for a ride” mantra – sent via WhatsApp message in an aptly named group (Tour De Friends, The Young & The Rest Of Us, etc).  Subtle differences but where nuances could be explained.

I then got the walkers where ultimately, I would be placed.  Similar to the cyclists, there could be separation based on apparel – active wear defined a core group within – let’s call them the Lorna Janes – motivated by the social driver – often in groups of up to 4. We had the couples – not only defined by their walking partner but also a subconscious decision to pair elements of their walking attire.  The matching visors from the elderly couple was not only a fashion statement but served as a connection to each other – their motivation: companionship.  And then the solos – motivated by fitness for either themselves or their dog.

So as 3 in 4 of these people walking, running or cycling past me said hello, I politely responded and mentally coded them into 8 segments created because in Perth, it’s hard to listen to a podcast in the morning.



By Paul Dixon

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