SEGMENT: Applicability of an Existing Segmentation Technique to TDM Social Marketing Campaigns in the United States

Philip Winters, Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)

Co-investigator:

  • Amy Lester, University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research

Summary:

Social marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviors that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good (International Social Marketing Association, 2013). Social marketing is a useful transportation demand management (TDM) planning approach to promote travel-behavior change, and combines at least seven distinguishing features which set it apart from other popular, behaviorchange planning approaches, such as education and mass media campaigns. These seven features include a focus on socially beneficial behavior change; a strong consumer orientation; the use of audience segmentation techniques and the selection of target audiences; the use of marketing’s conceptual framework (marketing mix and exchange theory); the recognition of competition; and continual marketing research.

The purpose of this study was to explore a consumer market segmentation technique (SEGMENT) successfully used in Europe for its applicability to social marketing campaigns in the United States. The SEGMENT project in Europe was a three-year project that examined how consumer marketsegmentation techniques can influence travel-behavior choices in favor of more energysustainable modes of travel. The project analyzed over 10,000 responses to comprehensive attitudinal surveys containing over 100 questions to generate eight main attitudinal segments useful for the design of mobility social marketing campaigns; additional analysis produced 18 “golden questions” representing the smallest number of survey questions required to reproduce the eight market segments (Intelligent Energy Europe, 2015). The SEGMENT project in Europe concluded that most of their eight segments can be detected in all locations (27 EU member states); however, the proportion to which each segment is represented in each partner city differs. Additionally, the SEGMENT project analysis identified key dimensions of diversity across attitudinal groups which enabled a core set of attitudinal questions to be identified; from these different dimensions, the golden questions were produced. The eight segments and golden questions identified by the European SEGMENT project cannot be directly transferrable to the United States’ population without further analysis. The research questions for this study included:

• Are attitudinal market segments the same in Europe and the United States?
• What proportion of each segment is represented in each of three states in the
United States?
• Are the golden questions used in Europe able to accurately predict segment
orientation in the United States?

Photo by AlexLinch on iStockphoto.com

Impacts:

Major contributions of this project are the validation of a successful existing segmentation technique for applicability in the United States, which can maximize the impact of TDM social marketing campaigns on changing travel behavior.  This research builds on previous research by Intelligent Energy Europe focused in EU’s 27 member states and expands the demographic profile and location.  Future research could expand to other areas of the United States and investigate whether the ‘golden questions’ accurately predict segment fit.  ‘Golden questions’ can be added to existing surveys to gather information about the proportion of individuals that belong to differing segments in an area.  Additionally, limited resources can be better allocated to target those segments that are most susceptible to behavior change.

The results of this research can also be used to support future TDM social marketing campaigns in these metropolitan areas.  For example, a current Florida Department of Transportation-funded project will be using a community-based social marketing approach to encourage Tampa Bay residents to increase walking and biking, increase use of transit, reduce traffic congestion, and create a more healthy and livable community; a program website offers personalized information to each household member based on their stage of change and mode preference.  Future iterations of this community-based social marketing project could leverage the results of this research to better segment household members and tailor information unique to their needs and attitudes.

Results of this study suggest that several distinct market segments exist in the U.S. with regards to travel behavior, similar to the European study that this project replicated. The results of this study are currently being used in an evaluation project of the Florida Commuter Assistance Program.

Project Details

Project Type:
Research
Project Status:
Completed
End Date:
June 30,2018
UTC Grant Cycle:
Natl Round 3
UTC Funding:
$97,621