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From Persuasion to Shared Value Creation

Don E. Schultz

As marketing conditions change, it has become more obvious that some of our most sacred marketing concepts simply don’t fit today’s marketplace, and their continued use can be more of a hazard to managers than a benefit.    

One of the most commonly used tools, STP—which stands for segmentation, targeting and positioning—is an amalgamation of three concepts, all of which were developed in the 1950s to ’70s and are still in common use today. Segmentation is the idea that marketers could identify or carve out groups of consumers and focus their products and marketing toward that group. Discussed initially by Wendell Smith in the 1950s, segmentation continues to be advocated, praised and practiced by marketing academics and managers around the world.  

Targeting is an outgrowth of the segmentation concept. That is, if the marketer can identify segments of the population, then it seems reasonable that they would be able to direct their marketing and communication efforts toward those groups. It’s a great idea but hard to put into practice. Historically, most media forms have been developed for mass markets. That’s what drives CPM (cost per thousand), the key measure for most media. Thus, large demographic groups, such as women 18 to 49, are considered target markets, although they aren’t really targets at all—simply an agglomeration of people of the same age group. Therefore, most media is focused on “reach,” which is the direct opposite of targeting.    

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​Don E. Schultz is a professor (emeritus-in-service) of integrated marketing communications at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.