Applying a European Marketing Strategy to TDM Programs in the U.S.

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Principal Investigator: Philip Winters, University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research
Learn more about this research by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page, or hear directly from the investigators by signing up for the webinar on November 28.

Social marketing can be a useful transportation demand management (TDM) planning approach, to change people's travel behavior. A new NITC study led by Philip Winters and Amy Lester of the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) explored a consumer market segmentation technique called SEGMENT, which is successfully used in Europe.

SEGMENT (SEGmented Marketing for ENergy efficient Transport) was a three-year project started under the European Commission, and the NITC researchers sought to test its applicability to social marketing campaigns in the United States. As it turns out, we are not so different from our European counterparts and the outcomes were very similar.

Social marketing has at least seven distinguishing features which set it apart from other popular behavior-change planning approaches, such as education and mass media campaigns. These seven features are: 

  1. A focus on socially beneficial behavior change; 
  2. A strong consumer orientation; 
  3. The use of audience segmentation techniques 
  4. The selection of target audiences; 
  5. The use of marketing’s conceptual framework (marketing mix and exchange theory); 
  6. The recognition of competition; and 
  7. Continual marketing research.

The validation of this segmentation technique for use in the United States is a major contribution of this research effort. Using SEGMENT stands to maximize the impact of TDM social marketing campaigns on changing travel behavior, without the added costs of customized segmentation studies.

As part of this NITC project, the researchers created a spreadsheet implementation tool and the documentation of a use case of the research. The tool allows users of the segmentation results to easily sort their customers into groups based on the "golden questions," which are the nearly two dozen behavioral and attitude questions that are used to predict into which one of the seven market segments a customer should be grouped.

If you’d like to hear more about this SEGMENT technique and how to use the spreadsheet tool to apply it to your travel behavior campaign– sign up for the free November 28th webinar with the researchers.

This research was funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, with additional support from the University of South Florida.


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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), one of five U.S. Department of Transportation national university transportation centers, is a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University. The NITC program is a Portland State-led partnership with the University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah and new partners University of Arizona and University of Texas at Arlington. Under a previous grant, the University of South Florida was also a NITC partner, and we are still publishing valuable research funded under this grant. We pursue our theme — improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities — through research, education and technology transfer.

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