“Hello F*ckers!” Mark Ritson Takes On Segmentation At Cannes In Cairns

“Hello F*ckers!” Mark Ritson Takes On Segmentation At Cannes In Cairns

No treasured marketing principle was left safe as Mark Ritson took to the stage at Cannes in Cairns last week.

Ritson welcomed the crowd in a classic Ritson-esque manner – “hello f*ckers!”. He then went on to challenge the teachings of legendary marketing professor Philip Kotler, explaining why they are now mostly out of date.

The three main marketing principles Kotler once outlined are segmentation, marketization, and positioning. However, Ritson said these precepts are now “wobbling” and that “these three precepts are maybe not as applicable as all of us once thought”.

Whilst Ritson described himself as a conservative – “I don’t like change, for the sake of change” – he said that we cannot deny that change is happening.

The main principle to take a hit was segmentation:  “I have a couple of problems with segmentation, we have to be honest. So first of all, they’re often not actionable. You can’t reach segment one without also reaching two, three and four. Thereby it’s kind of pointless,” Ritson said.

More importantly, he added, they aren’t really meaningful.

“We know the difference between Gen Y and Gen X. They’re a little bit younger, they’re a little bit thinner, they’re getting a little more sex. But that’s not because they’re in a different segment.  It’s because they’re 15 years younger”.

He pointed to research that shows, whilst it’s impossible to predict which ad will come out top, the best-performing ad is generally the best-performing ad across different segments.

Whilst marketers should, therefore, be embracing mass marketing, there are other challenges with this which include, namely, budget. Most brands cannot afford to reach everyone.

Thankfully there are ways to get around this, Ritson added. One way was geography. He talked about Macalister Brewing Company, a beer company that is solely based in North Queensland.

“There’s no f*cking difference in far north Queensland beer tastes as far as I can see, it’s just that the brewing company can’t afford to go outside of that small regional area where they still have mass market”.

Another option, he said, was surprisingly simple.

“Go for former customers. It’s dumb, but it works. Go for clients that bought from us in 2021, but didn’t buy for 2022. It’s a fruitful segment, your competitor’s customers that might have complex segmentation pitches, just go after customers who are currently with your competitors”.

Step aside Kotler!


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    1. Many knowledgeable marketing folk have complained for years that Philip Kotler has a poor understanding of marketing. One great article is called “”Kotler and the Kotleroids” (Repiev, 2009)”, which identifies some of Kotler’s faux pars, untrue opinionated theories, and misleading interpretations of fact.
      Mark is right on two counts:
      1) Kotler doesn’t know segmentation from “squat”
      2) Kotler teaches old stuff like the 4P’s (1962 theory), Ansoff Matrix (1957 theory) and the BCG matrix (1970)
      If it wasn’t for Mark’s over-the-top arrogance, and the fact that Mark teaches “old” theories too, he’d be a great force in Marketing.

    2. One of my colleagues suggested, “Ritson, in his arrogance, has demonstrated a poor understanding of market segmentation!”.
      The trouble is his audience probably shared that weakness… giving Riston credibility he may not deserve.
      Both may have misunderstood that we identify MEANINGFUL segments by behaviour, not by demographics. No wonder so many CEOs hold marketing in low esteem… those that are believed to be knowledgeable, who SHOULD know better, don’t. 🙁

    3. Mark, did you get to meet Mo, from Mojo? (Alan Morris, with Alan Johnston). Unfortunately, Mo passed away in 2007). They created the original “How do you feel?” Tooheys TVC campaign in 1979. When asked “Who is the target market for Tooheys?” He replied: “Anyone over 18 with a mouth” and I know he wasn’t joking. Think you would have enjoyed that era. (Lots of fun, what I can remember).

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