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Top Gun Fighter Pilots Provide Clues to More Effective Database Marketing Segmentation: The Impact of Birth Order

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A major issue in the construction of a database is what data to collect about customers in order to maximise targeting efficiency. The paper examines a variable hitherto neglected by marketers but which has been shown in psychology literature to have significant influence on a wide variety of adult behaviour, including fighter pilot effectiveness. There is evidence that birth order shapes personality, in particular what Sulloway refers to as the "Big Five" personality dimensions. This paper reviews the psychology literature, discusses the potential implications for marketers, in particular database marketing, and reports on two studies (including a nationally representative sample of 967 adults) that support the hypothesis that first-borns show a greater need than later-borns to talk to others before and/or after a high involvement purchase. The implications for methods of direct marketing communication and communication content are noted. The simplicity of collecting birth order data, coupled with the ability of neural networks software to process many customer variables, e.g. demographic and transactional, in order to optimise targeting efficiency, makes ordinal birth position a prime candidate for inclusion on consumer databases.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-07-01

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