Marketing to specific people and groups is a demonstrative development that has been around for almost as long as marketing has been recognized as a viable field of study and employment. Marketing segmentation or geodemographic marketing segmentation is a development of this desire, on the part of the manufacturer to meet the most customers, who will be interested in and purchase the products they develop. According to the Dictionary of Business geodemographic segmentation is defined as:
Market segmentation in which consumers are grouped according to demographic variables, such as income and age, and identified by a geographic variable, such as post code or zip code. The base data is obtained from the census data. Two principles are involved: (1) people who live in the same neighbourhood, defined by a census enumeration district, are likely to share similar buying habits; (2) neighbourhoods can be categorized in terms of their populations: two or more neighbourhoods with similar populations can be placed in the same category.
1996, p. 229)
There is a clear sense that though the geodemographic information of consumers is not always the most demonstrative of their actual buying habits, yet it is certainly a beginning. More specific marketing segmentation, has been attempted, beyond geographic location, and can be grouped into comparative models that also constitute specialized markets, which individual marketers can seek to understand to better sell their products to them. Marketers frequently model brand and product information to specific market segments, and often by selling them what they want, rather than what they necessarily need.
The development of the marketing concept changed the nature of marketing activities by focusing upon a customer orientation. New product development was encouraged since a greater diversity of products was required to meet customer needs.... This is called market segmentation -- a process of dividing a diverse market into groups of consumers with relatively similar characteristics, wants, needs, buying habits, or reactions to marketing efforts. Consumers are grouped according to some variable or variables such as demographic, geographic, or psychological factors. (Michman, 1991, p. 4)
Marketing from a consumer base is the standard trend in business, at this time. The consumer then determines the need and/or availability of a product based on market research, as it is a given that developing and manufacturing products that consumers will not buy or use is fruitless, regardless of the fact that the product may be a technological breakthrough. There are also varied types of segmentation that drive marketing issues. Geodemographic segmentation is a collective of marketing strategies that arise from demographic segmentation, which does not always assume that people who live in the same neighborhood will purchase the same products, but that many other factors are at play in individual decisions and individual perception of products and/or services being marketed. Demographic segmentation is defined as:
Dividing a market into groups based on such demographic variables as age, sex, family size, family life cycle, income, occupation, education, religion, race, or nationality (see also market segmentation). While demographic segmentation has been popular in marketing, it is now used together with benefit, life-stage, and life-cycle segmentation to try to produce more predictable market information.
1996, p. 155)
The market can also consider behavioral segmentation as an option for marketing strategy. "Behavioural segmentation the process of dividing a market into groups based upon the consumer's knowledge of a product, attitude to it, use for it, or response to it. "
1996, p. 55) Behavioral segmentation can also be based upon past product purchases and behaviors, based either on historical data of the individual or of the individuals particular market group, as it has been defined.
Benefit segmentation also markets to consumers through ideas about what benefits they seek from particular products and is defined as:
The process of dividing a market based on the specific benefits consumers seek from a product. For example, some car buyers want comfort and reliability from their car, while others look for style and speed. A car manufacturer, therefore, has to decide which benefits to offer.
(1996, p. 56)
There is also concentrated segmentation or niche marketing, 1996, p. 114) gender segmentation, 1996, p. 228) differentiated marketing (where multiple marketing strategies are utilized for the same products, depending on the consumer desire)
1996, p. 159) and lifestyle segmentation
1996, p. 292). Addtioanlly, there are many combined segmentation styles, such as sagacity segmentation defined as:
form of *market segmentation developed to improve the discriminating power of income and demographic classifications. This form of segmentation combines *life cycle, income, and socio-economic information with *JICNAR data. The underlying theme is that as people pass through the various stages of their lives they have different aspirations and patterns of behaviour, which are reflected in their consumption of goods and services.
(1996, p. 443)
Marketing has also developed to incorporate consumer desires for responsible purchasing, or purchasing that has limited negative social impact. Different demographic groups respond differently to what is termed as social marketing but it is clear that social marketing is an essential trend that must be valued and utilized.
The focus of marketing has correspondingly shifted over the years. Marketing evolved through a commodity focus (farm products, minerals, manufactured goods, services); an institutional focus (producers, wholesalers, retailers, agents); a functional focus (buying, selling, promoting, transporting, storing, pricing); a managerial focus (analysis, planning, organization, control); and a social focus (market efficiency, product quality, and social impact). (Lazer & Kelley, 1973, p. 75)
Social marketing may also answer many concerns that have been leveled against marketing as a tool for brainwashing individuals into buying things based on the manufacturers need to sell it rather than their actual need for it.
Consumerism that is expressed through marketing the desire for "wealth and privilege" has remained a mainstay of the industry, as individuals tend to focus on desired objects, even past the point of their ability to pay for them, and this is especially true when financing options are available.
Environmentalism is used to sell cars and nuclear power plants. Feminist slogans are employed to hawk cigarettes and jogging shoes. Bleak images of war, disaster, and human suffering appear in magazine ads for sportswear. Even the countercultural rejection of consumerism is invoked as a sales pitch. What gives?
(Jacobson & Mazur, 1995, p. 91)
Social marketing, that attempts to sell individuals choices that are more socially responsible, can only answer this trend if such marketing is demonstrative of reality, which many argue it rarely is. (Jacobson & Mazur, 1995, p. 91)
Different images of marketing segments are also almost as diverse as the number of types of segmentation. The "camper cycling" segment is identified as a group that would likely be more responsive not to how the product will make them look but what places the product can help go or what strategies the product can help them achieve. Comparatively the "top gun" marketing segment is one that identifies high achievers, who are monetarily and professionally successful and wish to display this in the products and services they purchase. The single young individual is the most likely demographic for all three of the above market groups and this also is taken into consideration when market strategies are discussed and implemented. The product marketing sells an image as much as it sells a product, creating for some in a consumerist society the image of who they are, as is reflected by what they own and what they do in their spare time, reflectively.
What is clear is that marketing is an ever evolving phenomenon that responds to consumer demands and the perception and choices of individuals. The marketing trends that have changed over the years can encompass entire volumes of literature. Changing trends do not always reflect reality, in part they often reflect perception of what and how consumers will spend their resources. Segments of consumers are targeted based on historical data as well as new findings in an ever changing business environment, from nearly every angle of sameness and diversity that exists.
1996). A Dictionary of Business (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jacobson, M.F., & Mazur, L.A. (1995). Marketing Madness: A Survival Guide for a Consumer Society. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Lazer, W., & Kelley, E.J. (1973). Social Marketing: Perspectives and Viewpoints. Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin.
Michman, R.D. (1991). Lifestyle Market Segmentation. New York: Praeger Publishers.
Consumer protection has a long legal history in the U.S. Constitutional provisions as well as state regulations have frequently taken the lead in the development of consumer protection laws and regulations. Initially consumer protection laws were designed to protect the manufacturer/grower as much as the consumer, attempting to control the market to such a degree that people knew what they were selling when it reached the market and consumers knew what they were buying when they paid a certain price for it.
The economic squeeze was reflected in the food laws enacted by the colonial legislatures. These were mainly trade laws --…