Concept and Application of Lifestyle Segmentation

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Joseph T. Plummer

The Concept and Application of Life Style Segmentation
The combination of two useful concepts provides a unique and important view of the market.

dimension for segmenting markets has A NEWcalled life style recent years. This been been developed in new method, segmentation, has useful for marketing and advertising planning. The purpose of this article is to describe the theory behind life style segmentation and discuss how it has been and can be applied. Life style segmentation is the marriage of two concepts into a single system. One of the concepts is life style patterns and the other is market segmentation. In order to discuss the uses of life style segmentation, it is important first to examine briefly each component of the system and then the uses of the total system. Life Style Patterns

The concept of life style patterns and its relationship to marketing was introduced in 1963 by William Lazer. He defined life style patterns as: "a systems concept. It refers to a distinctive mode of living in its aggregate and broadest sense. . . . It embodies the patterns that develop and emerge from the d>Tiamics of living in a society."' Since 1963, methods of measuring life style patterns and their relationship to consumer behavior have been developed and refined. The most widely used approach to life style measurement has been AIO (Activities, Interests, and Opinions) rating statements.- Life style as used in life style segmentation research measures people's activities in terms of (1) how they spend their time; (2) their interests, what they place importance on in their immediate surroundings; (3) their opinions 1. William Lazer, "Life Stj-le Concepts and Marketing." Toward Scientific Marketing, Stephen Greyser, ed. (Chicago: American Marketing Assn., 1963), pp. 140-I5L 2. William Wells and Doug Tigert, "Activities. Interests and Opinions," Journal of Advertising Research. Vol. 11 August 1971), pp. 27-35, Joseph T. Plummer. "Life Stvie Patterns: A New Construct for Mass Communications Research," Journal of Broadcasting. Vol. 16 (Fall-Winter 1972), pp. 79-89; and Joseph T. Plummer, "Life Style Patterns and Commercial Bank Credit Card Usage," JOURN.U. OF .\L4RKETING. Vol. 35 (April 1971), pp. 35-42. Journal of Marketing, Vol. 3a {January 1974), pp. 33-37.

in terms of their view of themselves and the world around them; and (4) some basic characteristics such as their stage in life cycle, income, education, and where they live. Table 1 lists the elements included in each major dimension of life style. The basic premise of life style research is that the more you know and understand about your customers the more effectively you can commtinicate and market to them. Over the years, a number of constructs have been useful in better understanding the customer. The most popular constructs have been demographics, social class, and psychological characteristics. Demographics have received broad acceptance and lend themselves easily to quantification and consumer classification. However, demographics lack richness and often need to be supplemented with other data. Social class adds more depth to demographics, but it. too, often needs to be supplemented in order to obtain meaningful insights into audiences. Lastly, psychological characteristics are often rich but may lack reliability when applied to mass audiences. In addition, the findings from psychological scales frequently are difficult to implement. The new construct, life style patterns, combines the virtues of demographics with the richness and dimensionality of psychological characteristics and depth research. Life style deals with ever'day, behaviorally oriented facets of people as well as their feelings, attitudes, and opinions. It tells us things about our customers that most researchers did not really attempt to quantif' in the past, when the focus was on the product or on widely used measures of classification such as demographics. Life style...
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