Can customer segmentation lead to better products? Just ask Motorola Mobility’s CMO

At many companies the most basic marketing practices can sometimes get overlooked, especially at companies that are engineering-driven. So when Bill Ogle stepped into the role of CMO at Motorola Mobility one of his first acts was to gain insight into the distinct needs of different customer groups. His approach, “seek first to understand and then be understood,” was aimed at improving the role marketing played in product planning at Motorola. “We had to move beyond ‘random acts of brilliance’ to consistently developing products that customers wanted,” said Bill. “Customer segmentation was an important part of that process.”

Photo courtesy of Engadget

When the DROID was announced in 2009 as a key part of the Motorola comeback plan there were questions about whether the company could return to its RAZR glory days. According to Engadget the answer was “Yes, the DROID is an excellent smartphone with many (if not all) of the features that a modern user would expect, and if you’re a Verizon customer, there probably isn’t a more action packed device on the network.”

But was this product a random act of brilliance or the precursor to a series of strong products? Again from Engadget, “Time stops for no phone, though, and we’re now halfway through 2010. Motorola’s success as a competitive smartphone manufacturer is ultimately going to depend not on its ability to produce a single hit, but to produce a never-ending string of hits, each better than the one before it. It’s a tall order — and that’s exactly where the Droid X comes into play.”

It looks like Bill has Motorola Mobility back on track by using the power of customer segmentation. My question for you is this: Why is this basic marketing practice missing at so many companies?