Lifestyle Segmentation of the Chinese Consumer

Forest Ma

Sinomonitor International, China


Since Smith's (1956) introduction of market segmentation, it has become one of the most important concepts in marketing. It reveals that customers may be too numerous, too widely scattered and too heterogeneous in their needs and wants, which cannot be satisfied by one organization. Therefore, an organization must divide the total market into several relatively homogeneous groups with similar needs and desires. That is market segmentation.

Market segmentation has been divided into four distinct types according to the different criteria used in segmenting the market: socioeconomic, geographic, product-related and psychographic (Pollock, etc. 1994). Socioeconomic market segmentation focus on the consumer's physical attribute such as age, sex, income, education, occupation and so on. Geographic market segmentation emphasizes the place that the consumer lives in. Product-related segmentation classifies consumers focusing on their purchase behavior within the relevant product category or the benefits the consumer expects to derive from a product category. Finally, psychographic segmentation, which is also called lifestyle segmentation, divides the total population into groups based on the consumer's motivation, attitudes, preference and values. Psychographics was a term first introduced by Demby (1974), putting together 'psychology', and 'demographics' to enhance understanding of consumer behavior, and to develop more adequate advertising strategies. Strictly speaking, there are small differences between psychographics and lifestyle. Psychographics generally refer to those concepts that are mental and individual, while the lifestyle tends to include behavioral that determined by social forces (Hughes, 1978). Therefore, psychographic studies place a heavy emphasis on personality traits. Lifestyle studies, on the other hand, focus on broad cultural trends or on the needs and values thought to be closely associated with consumer behavior, measuring activities, interests, opinions and attitudes (Douglas, 1978). Regardless of the difference, lifestyle research results in psychographic consumer profiles that show the overall manner in which people live and spend time and money.