Purpose This study aims to develop a method of segmenting markets by using the functional approach to attitudes. The adopted approach identifies and groups individuals based on what functions their held attitudes serve for them. Specific marketing mixes can, thus, be designed for each functional profile.
Design/methodology/approach The multi-method approach adopted consists of a qualitative assessment of consumers’ attitudinal functions in the physical fitness context and the development of an instrument to identify the distribution of attitudinal function segments in the same context.
Findings A valid and reliable instrument that can be used to segment a market based on functional profiles is developed.
Practical implications The outlined method provides a method for practitioners to identify existing functional segments, thus creating marketing mixes based on these functional segments and, ultimately, maximizing the value created for each segment.
Originality/value The value in this research lies in the integration of old concepts (functional approach and scale development) to solving a new problem. The functional approach reaches deep to determine “why attitudes are held” vs simply “what attitudes are held”. Operationalization difficulties led to the abandonment of the approach. This research, thus, contributes theoretically by actually operationalizing the functional approach via a scale development, and using the operationalized form as a new means for segmenting markets.
As consumers attempt to satisfy their various recognized needs, they evaluate several alternatives to determine from which they can derive the most value. By operating under consumer-centric philosophies, firms understand the value of identifying these heterogeneous consumers’ needs and creating valuable offerings for these consumers. To this effect, it is necessary to identify meaningful segments with similar needs in the marketplace, to create the most valuable marketing mixes for each segment.
Limitations and future research
As aforementioned, one limitation of this study is that it is constrained to the physical fitness industry; thus, generalizability claims must be made with caution. Another limitation is that the instrument developed in this study was not tested as a segmentation tool in an existing market base, and, as such, the responsiveness of any potential emerging segments could not be assessed.
For this reason, future research efforts should be focused on:
- following the guidelines outlined in this study, to create similar segmentation instruments in other contexts; and
- using this and other developed instruments to actually segment markets, and then testing (via experiments, survey and other research techniques) if the yielded segments do in fact exhibit unique response patterns that warrant unique marketing mixes.