Socially Constructed Realities and the Hidden Face of Market Segmentation
Market segmentation is a construct that has existed in the marketing literature for the past fifty years and perhaps longer in practice but without a label. During that time segmentation has received considerable interest from researchers in the marketing discipline and a number of different perspectives have contributed to its development as it is now understood. This paper identifies these differences of perspective. Nevertheless, from the earliest construction to its present position fundamentally little has changed and the concerns raised in its practical application remain. Furthermore, at a base level it can be argued market segmentation is commonly understood. However, under different conditions with different dimensions the challenge to segmentation lies, paradoxically, in a broadening of the heterogeneity that the approach was designed to handle. This conceptual paper adopts a social constructionist stance to examine this central tenet of marketing theory and practice. Thought trials are conducted through conjecture and compared to notions of self and group identities with the purpose of establishing a socially constructed understanding of segmentation. Implications for theory building research and marketing practice are drawn from the conclusions.
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