Segmentation of a market involves dividing the individual market into groups which have homogeneous characteristics within the segment and heterogeneous characteristics between the segments, depending on identified set of variables (Dolnicar 2004, p. 245). Market segmentation helps the marketer understand the market, identify and exploit new market opportunities as well as predict customer behavior. Segmentation is applied in tourism marketing among different groups of travelers, who show varying responses to changes in marketing mix variables. This is done depending on the tourists’ lifestyles to influence their consumer demand for products and services within a particular destination.
Segmentation by lifestyle involves all the aspects that identify the desirable target markets using demographic descriptors. It seeks to target consumers depending on their choice of spending money and time based on common values, motivation, opinions, access to resources, interests and values as well as attitudes and orientation. Gonzalez and Bello (2002, p. 52) delve into tourism market segmentation with regard to construct “lifestyle” based on the tourists’ behavior to guide operators ascertain and implement market segmentation. Moreover, they offer analysis on the effectiveness of behavioral outlines in tourism segmentation.
The study offers insight about the behavior of tourists to enable marketers in travel business to offer products and services that cater for the needs and desires of a specific tourism segment. Lifestyle is a sub-set of culture therefore construct “lifestyle” is dependent upon the culture of a particular market whereby the pursuant of prestigious products is totally different between varying cultures. This calls for strategies that necessitate lifestyle considerations in the determination of segmentation and pricing as advocated by Gonzalez and Bello (2002, p. 57). The study reviews lifestyle choices and their adoption by correctly categorizing individuals to relevantly segment the tourism market based on the behavior of tourists.
The authors provided innovations that would assist marketers to avoid possible collinearity when used in combination with attitudes, interests and opinions to show the effect of lifestyles with regard to segmentation of the tourism market. The innovative techniques included; an analysis of multiple correspondence factors on nominal variables, and an ordinal Likert scale that involved the SPSS statistical package measure the variables that shape lifestyle. Moreover, Gonzalez and Bello (2002, p. 22-23) used separate independent multiple correspondence analyses to measure the behavioral characteristics on both long and short travels.
This technique used SPAD statistical package to provide a clear overview of huge data sets using the descriptions of variables and individuals in the data matrix. Further, K-means algorithm would provide marketers with clear information about the segmentation of the tourism market because of the sample size as well as the Euclidean distance it would take to measure closeness. Null hypothesis on factor results would be approximated using Bartlett’s chi-square. However, an analysis of the canonical correlations would be done using the biomedical package to give the relationship between independent variables.
In the study, five different segments were identified through categorizations that were found to be applicable to tourism markets not only in Spain but in other countries as well. Psychological requirements and desires of individuals were identified according to the Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs, which are placed at the bottom of the pyramid. The authors suggested tourism categories that would satisfactorily meet the needs of the tourists and included, the tourist’s work and pleasure, international and domestic travels, sports, culture, beach holiday, and pilgrimage as well as health tourism. These analyses were used to show tourism agents and marketers that there exists a direct relationship between the lifestyle of tourists and their behavior as consumers of both long and short tourism packages.
Gonzalez and Bello highlighted the behavior of tourists to include home-loving individuals who prefer a quiet lifestyle with their families and are thus conservative on the notion of life therefore are placed on the most demanding segment of the tourism market (p. 67). Consumers in this segment first look at the quality of the package being offered before they can look at the price since the belief of quality is entrenched in their minds. These kind of consumers are more likely to go for sceneries of natural beauty and cultural events. Moreover, the consumers in the most demanding segment are also likely to prefer long trips over short ones with their families or close friends thereby demanding a home-like accommodation.
Consumers whose concern is tolerance, flexibility, responsibility and justice were categorized as idealistic and are more likely to go for rural places. The idealistic consumers are seen as conservative in their spending power and would prefer to go for short travels with their families and close friends. It would thus be important for marketers to organize fair-priced trips to the rural areas with opportunities to engage in up-country life.
Another segment identified was the hedonistic consumers who strive for self-fulfillment and hold successful jobs in the society. This segment is normally attracted to new and sophisticated packages, they are seen to enjoy life as it comes and are tolerant to the societal issues. They travel in the company of their friends and vacation in big cities on short travels with a knack for five star hotels for accommodation and if they choose long trips, they are more likely to stay up to three weeks in top-class facilities.
Consumers who love to enjoy life to the fullest with personal freedom and independence were categorized in the autonomous segment. These consumers belief in the evolution of society and thus work to earn a living. They prefer the nightlife in place of cultural activities and take long trips to coastal attractions with friends as well as short trips to cities where they prefer hotel accommodation. Marketers can target this segment with weekend and public holiday in both local and international places.
The conservative segment was also identified to help tourism marketers cater for the needs of the pessimistic consumer with strict attitude toward obeying the law. Consumers in this segment put a key focus on family and the intrinsic daily life. The have little preference for nightlife, modern music and cinema and thus take short travels to rural areas where they can spend time with their families while utilizing friends’ accommodation.
Gonzalez and Bello (2002, p. 82) found out that consumers in the tourism markets choose travel means and activities, destinations, accommodation and food depending on their impetus, individuality and their way of life. In today’s global business environment behavioral and psychographic approaches to segmentation are the norm and this is evidenced by the tourism industry where products are consumed in a personalized way (Klemm 2002, p. 87). The findings and recommendations of the study can thus be used by tourism marketers to predict the behavioral patterns of tourists and hence employ effective business strategies. Marketers need to understand the lifestyle of consumers to roll out products that fit their life.