You’re not a Mac Woman, Adventures in Segment Marketing

MAKEUP26Let me tell you a story for you that I think of often when thinking about segmentation marketing. This story won’t seem much like it is about segmentation marketing so stick with me.

A few years ago, I was in the mall at Norstrom’s. I had only a few minutes before I needed to pick up my daughter from school. I was running out of a shade of eye shadow I used so I stopped briefly at the Mac counter. I only stood there for 30 seconds when I realized that with as many customers as they had, I wouldn’t be able to complete my transaction before I needed to go.

I started to walk away. As I walked by the neighboring counter, a lovely woman stopped me and asked if she could help me. I responded (knowing that the different people at different counters worked for different companies) that I just needed something from Mac but didn’t have time to wait. Her response shocked me. She shook her head and said, “but you aren’t a Mac Woman.” I looked at her confusedly and she said something to to the effect of “you are out of the house without makeup. I am betting when you use makeup, it is to make subtle and natural changes to your look. You don’t use highly pigmented colors that boldly change your appearance. You aren’t a Mac Woman.”

When I have told this story to others in the past, it has been pointed out more than once that Mac has plenty of soft pigmented makeup types that work well for the way I wear makeup. That is actually beside the point. Looking at Mac’s marketing message, it is clear that their “ideal” customer is not me. When I look at their marketing collateral, I never see a look I would wear. Why am I going to purchase product from a company for which I am kind of an after thought?

The end of my story above is that I called the sales person back a week later and made an appointment, I have used her company’s cosmetics ever since. When I look for marketing collateral for Trish McEvoy, I see products I would use and styles I would wear. When they have events in town, the artists are creating looks for women like me on women like me.

Segmentation marketing is a tricky beast, to embrace one customer type is to leave other potential customer types unloved. That is hard. I can almost hear you thinking, why would I leave money on the table? Why can’t I be the company that gets both the Mac customers and the Trish McEvoy customers? The simple answer is you can’t. The message that resonates with each audience is simply to different. Marketing to the great middle typically means losing out on everyone.