by Lori Hubbard
Market segmentation involves dividing a broad target market into smaller like-minded groups of consumers. Traditional demographic segmentation strategies include age, gender, income, occupation, geographic location and education level. Values, attitudes and lifestyles can also be used to segment an audience. Attitude segmentation helps marketers better understand their customers and their perceptions and behaviors.
Demographics identify the markets; they don’t explain the markets. Demographic segmentation methods tell which customers share the same age, gender and purchase behavior, but they do not explain the motivation for the behavior. For example, a demographic segmentation assumes that people who share the same age category have common purchasing habits. This can be true to a point. However, a male and female with different incomes may be the same age, and yet may have wildly different purchasing patterns. Attitude segmentation goes beyond collecting information on the consumer and offers greater insight into why customers buy.
Attitude is a predisposition to respond positively or negatively toward a product or service. Consumer attitude almost always influences a purchase decision. How a consumer feels about your product can be as important as the physical attributes such as size and color. A teenager may buy a sweatshirt that is too big or not the preferred color because wearing the sweatshirt makes him feel cool. Learning how consumers feel about products assists marketers in crafting marketing messages that appeal to these positive, non-tangible product benefits. Learning of negative feelings toward a product helps marketers develop messaging strategies to overcome barriers to purchase.
Marketers are able to define attitudes of consumers through research. Written attitude surveys are widely used as an assessment of the feelings of the population toward a brand, product or company. A questionnaire using a measurable scale is useful in garnering qualitative data. Personal interviews and focus groups provide an opportunity for more in-depth conversation regarding opinions about a brand. Statistical analysis creates attitude profiles from the collected data, and marketers use these profiles to understand the motivational and non-conscious factors driving decision-making.
The goal of attitude segmentation is to develop a prediction about how consumers will behave in the future. Marketers want to determine the likelihood a consumer will make a future purchase. There are emotional reasons why customers buy, beyond the practical needs, which can’t be captured by traditional demographic research. Leaning whether primary motivations are price, quality, service or some intangible connection a consumer has with your product or service leads to more effective marketing communication strategies to drive future purchases.