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Blogs by the Chasm Institute Team & Colleagues

Aug 2015

Segmentation, the Aston Martin Way: Aim for the Centerpoint

Segmentation, the Aston Martin Way: Aim for the Centerpoint

At a recent Churchill Club meeting my colleague and Chasm Institute Chairman Geoffrey Moore interviewed Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer about the business of making and selling their uber-branded luxury automobiles. One of the topics of conversation was how Aston Martin did segmentation. In a nutshell, they created "personas" representing the ideal buyer for each of their luxury models, all of which support the overall branding concept of "power, beauty, soul."

Palmer mentioned several different personas:

  1. James Bond, representing the overall Aston Martin brand - handsome, athletic, good looking, appreciates the finer side of life, a little bit naughty, and expects the best in life (kinda like the guy next to the Aston Martin above, LOL) 
  2. Richard, representing the Vanquish
  3. Marcus, representing the Vantage
  4. Philip, representing the DB9
  5. Yang, representing the Logonda, and finally 
  6. Charlotte, representing the DBX

Let's take a closer look at "Charlotte." She's in her early 40s, from California, is a professional working mother, and is looking to reward herself. She is the sort of person who shops at Burberry and Rolex outlets, and she's more likely to look at her LinkedIn profile than Facebook. Note that the target segment for the DBX is not "all professional working women," but a specific individual named "Charlotte." The lesson: Define a segment not by its borders, but by its centerpoint. 

Here's the problem with defining a segment by its borders:

When we define a segment in terms of its "borders," it only takes the next large deal to dislodge any thought we have about segmentation. "Let's just make the segment a bit bigger." It keeps going until we don't have any kind of segment discipline whatsoever. So, let's look at the Aston Martin approach:

Aston Martin's centerpoint for the DBX is "Charlotte," in her early 40s, from California, a professional working mother, and looking to reward herself. Yes, there will be others who identify with Charlotte, but when Aston Martin sends out its messages for the DBX, they are done with Charlotte in mind. The other prospective customers will self-select based on how close they are to the ideal target customer for the DBX.

That's focus. It works for Aston Martin, and it works for any company in high-tech looking to find a segment to dominate. Key lesson: define your segment in terms of its centerpoint, not its boundaries.

What's key here is not so much what Aston Martin did, but what they did NOT do in segmentation. They did NOT try be all things to all people. They didn't choose a segment of, say wealthy men, German engineers, French sophisticates, Chinese businessmen, or American businesswomen. They chose real, specific personas which represented the ideal target customer for a specific model.

No different than what we do in Silicon Valley:

  • Identify the ideal target customer
  • Invest in marketing to that ideal target customer

Your brand becomes very specific...not some nebula with no definition, but a specific persona. 

At Chasm Institute, we do it this way also. Define a segment, not by its borders, but by its centerpoint. It works for Aston Martin, and it works for any company marketing disruptive innovations.

 Agree? Tell me more. Disagree? Let's discuss :)



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Chasm Institute LLC helps high-tech teams learn, apply, and implement best practices in market development strategy. These best practices are based on Geoffrey Moore's best-selling books Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, Living on the Fault Line, Dealing with Darwin, and Escape Velocity plus hundreds of client engagements with high-tech companies. 

Chasm Institute helps companies align their product development, marketing, and sales functions to achieve and maintain market leadership in their categories.


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