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The Ultimate Guide to Geographic Segmentation

Laura Barker


We all know that targeting the right people is at the core of a successful marketing campaign. But to precisely target that group of ideal people, marketers first need to focus on segmentation, or breaking a large group of people into smaller sub-groups. 

There are several ways to segment an audience — and geographic segmentation is where many marketers choose to start. Let’s explore the concept of geographic segmentation and how you can use a geo-segmentation strategy to win more customers.  

What is Geographic Segmentation?

Geographic segmentation is the practice of grouping members of an audience based on location, including where they live, work, and shop. These groupings can be as broad or narrow as necessary, from country to postal code or even more specific. 

The basis of geographic segmentation is simple: Consumers’ shopping habits are influenced by where they live. For example, people who live on the coasts might purchase seafood more often than people who live in the Midwest, and people who live in urban areas might be more likely to buy a compact car rather than a pickup truck.

This type of segmentation helps businesses understand shopping trends and behavior in different areas of the world, which then helps them improve audience targeting and increase marketing effectiveness. 

There are a number of variables that should be considered when breaking your market into geographic segments. We’ll dive into those factors in the next section.

Types of Geographic Segmentation

Location-based segmentation

The simplest and most common way to geographically segment an audience is by location. People who live in close proximity to certain brands are more likely to purchase from those brands, rather than from a competitor that’s farther away. Additionally, some products may not be useful to people in certain areas, so advertisers can exclude those populations from their marketing campaigns. 

Example: A restaurant uses Google Search ads to target people within a 2-mile radius of its physical location. When those people Google “restaurants near me,” an ad for the restaurant appears at the top of their search results.

Culture-based segmentation

Cultural variations and preferences can dictate how your brand or products will be perceived in different parts of the world. By being aware of a region’s unique customs and traditions, marketers can decide not only whether it’s effective, but if it’s acceptable to run promotions in certain areas. 

Example: A fast food chain adjusts their menu offerings in different parts of the world. In India, where most people practice Hinduism, the chain does not serve hamburgers or other beef products.  

Time-zone segmentation

Many businesses have customers living in different time zones, which can make it difficult to correctly time mass marketing communications. Marketers can segment customers based on time zones to ensure emails, social media posts, and other initiatives are published at the optimal time.

Example: A clothing company is running a one-day sale on jeans, and they want to promote the sale in an email to customers. If the company doesn’t segment its email list by time zone, customers in Chicago will receive the email at 9 a.m. while customers in Sydney will receive it at midnight — a time when they’re probably asleep and will miss the email.

Population-based segmentation

Population density is another particularly important variable to consider when creating geographic market segments. Rural populations have very different needs than urban populations, and the demand for certain goods is often higher in densely populated areas. 

Example: A lawn service company targets a small number of people — homeowners living in the suburbs —with Facebook ads rather than a large group of city dwellers.

Climatic and seasonal segmentation

Weather and climate dictate market demand for certain products across many industries. Consumer needs and preferences change based on how warm, cold, wet, or dry an area is at any given time.

Example: A sporting goods store targets people living in California with ads for surfing accessories and apparel, and people planning a ski vacation with goggles and gloves.

Benefits of Geographic Segmentation

Ideally, brands should use a variety of segmentation strategies — including demographic, psychographic, and behavioral segmentation — to define their audience and improve targeting. Each type has unique benefits that contribute to better marketing performance and ultimately, more ROI. So why include geographic segmentation in the mix?

  • More personalization. You can tailor the message each segment receives based on their unique needs and preferences. More relevant ads lead to more purchases.

  • Save budget and resources. Instead of wasting money on mass audiences who may have no interest in your brand, targeting geographic segments ensures your ads reach the right people.

  • Target more efficiently. Large groups of people are often very different from each other. When you turn a big population into smaller groups, you can more efficiently and effectively market to each segment. 

  • It’s easy. Pinpointing and analyzing geographic variables is a relatively straightforward process. And with the right tools, targeting your audience based on geographic segments is a breeze.

  • Deeper understanding of customers. When you market to segments, you start to learn more about what people in a particular area want and what drives their behavior. These insights can inform future marketing strategies and more effective campaigns.

Implementing a Geographic Segmentation Strategy

Whether you’re a small business new to geographic segmentation or an advanced marketer looking to get more out of your current segmentation strategy, the right technology is key. AdRoll Unified Contacts and dynamic list builder power hyper-personalized marketing across ads and email for both identified and anonymous contacts. Achieve better communication with shoppers and more sales across channels — from a single platform. 

Learn more about our audience and segmentation tools today.

Have more questions about audience segmentation and targeting? Check out our resources below! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are examples of geographic segmentation in marketing?

Geographic segmentation examples in marketing include:

  • Promoting dog walking services in a densely populated, urban area

  • Targeting people who live in New England with cold-weather apparel ads

  • A bakery advertising to people who live within 5 miles

What are the 5 main geographic segments?

The main geographic variables that should be considered when segmenting an audience are location, climate, population, culture/religion, and time zone.

What does geographic segment mean in marketing?

Geographic segmentation is the practice of grouping members of an audience based on location, including where they live, work, and shop. Using these segments, marketers can draw valuable insights about consumer trends and behaviors across different areas. This allows for better targeting and more effective marketing. 

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