January 16, 2017

Difference between Segmentation Targeting and Positioning

One of the first principles of Marketing management is segmentation targeting and positioning also known as STP. However, all the three concepts are so parallel to each other that marketers may not understand importance of keeping them separate and the role that each of them play in a marketing strategy.

Lets first look at the process of STP. This in turn will help you understand the role of all three. The first step which takes place in STP is the segmentation part. This is mainly because, before segmentation, the customer base is known as a population. The population is comprised of a group of people, which have no differentiation between them. However, you cannot market to just a group of people because you might be wasting resources. You do not know which strategy to use or how to market.

segmentation targeting and positioning

This is where segmentation comes in. Segmentation helps you define your population in smaller group or segments. And that is its basic role. Take the example of someone who wants to market Shoes. For him the complete population is a market. However, he will further divide them into segments by categorizing them as Young, Middle aged, Old etc. Thus now he has his segments in hand.

Once you know your segments, you start targeting those segments. Thus targeting can be said to be a sub concept of Segmentation. Targeting plays a critical role in your marketing mix. If you are targeting the youngsters segment, then your products need to be more creative, more colorful and cheaper. But if you are targeting the middle aged working classes, your product needs to be elegant, it is ok to be high priced as they have buying power, and your promotions need to be different. Thus targeting will affect the Marketing mix.

Once you have your segment, and you know whom you need to target, you begin with the subtle art of positioning. Continuing with the above example –  You have the youngsters segment, you are targeting them for colorful and hip shoes, but at the same time you have a competition in the same segment. So how do you take on that competition? It is by positioning yourself differently from the competition. You can position yourself as a quality brand with mid pricing, a cheap use & throw brand with higher quantities and movement, or a high quality brand with high pricing for the Sec A class. Where targeting mainly affects the Product and Pricing phase of the Marketing mix, Positioning mainly affects the promotions and placement stage of marketing mix.

While targeting, you need to tailor the products and pricing as per your target segment. But while positioning, you need to ensure that the right message is given to your target segment and that the products are present at the right place. A Sec-A positioned brand cannot be present in every retail showroom and similarly a Sec C positioned brand will not find itself in the top class locations.

The above flow itself summarizes the concept and differences of Segmentation targeting and positioning. In Summary, first comes segmentation, then targeting and then positioning. And once the product has been established, a change in one brings a change in the other and vice versa. A change in targeting will bring a change in positioning. And a change in segmentation will bring a change in targeting.

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About Hitesh Bhasin

I love writing about marketing and advertising. Would you like to ask me a question? Kindly send your queries and feedback via this Forum. You can also get daily marketing updates via email. Let's stay in touch :)


  1. shivinder jeet says:


    i am an orthopaedic surgeon practising in a tier II city. i am new to practise. i am trained very well and i have done foreign fellowship (accredited). i have been trying hard to establish my practise. i need u to guide me.

    population of my area is around 10 lakhs and i am mainly located in the outskirts of the city.

    regards looking for ward for ur commments

  2. Hitesh Bhasin says:

    Dear Shivinder, i have replied to you on your email in detail.
    If you are a surgeon i would highly recommend that you move into the main city as that is where the population is going to go up and your work is going to be appreciated.Once the population knows you, then you can move to the outskirts.
    Without a name, no one trusts a doctor. So you will have to build up your name with the help of others. Join the top hospitals even as an intern if you have to. Learn the ropes of hospital administration. and then once people know you, you can start your own practice.
    I discourage you from starting your own practice directly. Once you have a name, people would automatically come to you. and if you are good, it will take maximum 2 years to earn a good name for yourself. Hope this helped.

  3. Dr. Kamlesh Ahire says:

    Dear Shivinder,
    Have tie ups with all the General Practioners in and around your city. If its a tier 2 city, then have tie ups with super specialtiy hospitals outside the city.

    Basically, the idea should be like this: Try to get maximum referals from the GPs. How to maintain those contacts; its up to you. & Create your position in super speciality hospital as an orthopaedician who gives maximum referals to that hospital for advance treatment.

    In addition to that, go for annual health checks, Free BMD tests in corporates around you.. This will help you to establish yourself in the market.

  4. Dear Sir,

    Hi, hope u re doing well

    I am a master of sport marketing management student, I would like to know about” Human brand” in marketing. Would u please kindly tell me the name of useful books or articles in this area?

    Many thanks

  5. Dimitar Bushkalov says:

    Fantastic Article,

    many books present the STP concept, but honestly, I never understood it as well as now. Thank you!

  6. How to use that 4th promotion p / in marketing

  7. Alexander says:

    Dear Sir,

    I have to finish an essay about the key elements of a marketing mix that would be appropriate in the music industry. However, I am not sure if I have to include the STP process in the essay since it affects the marketing mix but it’s not a direct component of the marketing mix (like the 4P’s, 7P’s etc). I would be grateful if you you could give me some advice on this matter. Thank you.

    • No. STP should not be included in the Marketing mix. As you are writing about the music industry, and it is a service industry, you should cover the 7 P’s or the service marketing mix.

  8. Marketing concepts is always in my mind, indeed it can apply to both of my working and private life.

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