Author(s): Yankelovich D, Meer D
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Abstract In 1964, Daniel Yankelovich introduced in the pages of HBR the concept of nondemographic segmentation, by which he meant the classification of consumers according to criteria other than age, residence, income, and such. The predictive power of marketing studies based on demographics was no longer strong enough to serve as a basis for marketing strategy, he argued. Buying patterns had become far better guides to consumers' future purchases. In addition, properly constructed nondemographic segmentations could help companies determine which products to develop, which distribution channels to sell them in, how much to charge for them, and how to advertise them. But more than 40 years later, nondemographic segmentation has become just as unenlightening as demographic segmentation had been. Today, the technique is used almost exclusively to fulfill the needs of advertising, which it serves mainly by populating commercials with characters that viewers can identify with. It is true that psychographic types like "High-Tech Harry" and "Joe Six-Pack" may capture some truth about real people's lifestyles, attitudes, self-image, and aspirations. But they are no better than demographics at predicting purchase behavior. Thus they give corporate decision makers very little idea of how to keep customers or capture new ones. Now, Daniel Yankelovich returns to these pages, with consultant David Meer, to argue the case for a broad view of nondemographic segmentation. They describe the elements of a smart segmentation strategy, explaining how segmentations meant to strengthen brand identity differ from those capable of telling a company which markets it should enter and what goods to make. And they introduce their "gravity of decision spectrum", a tool that focuses on the form of consumer behavior that should be of the greatest interest to marketers--the importance that consumers place on a product or product category.
This article was published in Harv Bus Rev
and referenced in Journal of Accounting & Marketing