Segmenting consumers based on their attitudes rather than values may be a more effective way of understanding e-commerce shoppers, according to a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Stefan Scheuffelen, Jan Kemper and Malte Brettel, all from RWTH Aachen University, examined this subject using survey-based data from 3,219 customers of a leading European online apparel retailer.

This information was supplemented by 163,000 “clicks”, as provided from the retailer’s database, and meant the authors could leverage self-reported and behavioural insights in their analysis.

And the research looked at three different “segmentation bases”. One of these involved “human values”, covering issues like achievement, universalism, security and power.

“Fashion attitudes”, such as individuals’ level of interest and leadership in this category, or being anti-fashion, was a second mode of segmentation.

Finally, “online shopping attitudes”, determined on criteria like consumer views of this retail channel’s trustworthiness and convenience, was used by the academics.

More specifically, their paper – entitled How do human attitudes and values predict online marketing responsiveness? Comparing consumer segmentation bases toward brand purchase and marketing response – was premised on two hypotheses.

The first was that “fashion attitude-based segmentation” would yield consumer cohorts with a more differentiated marketing response and purchase behaviour than segments split out by their values.

And the second was that “online shopping attitude-based segmentation” would equally stand out in responsiveness and purchases than consumer groups separated out based on their values.

The authors found that the research validated these hypotheses. Clicks on search-engine marketing for some “fashion-attitude segments”, for instance, climbed as high 36.4% above the average – a total hitting 28.2% for orders via the email channel.

Segments split out by attitude to online shopping recorded clicks that leapt as high as 39.2% above the average – a figure reaching as much as 26% for email orders.

“This research thus confirms a theoretical framework to understand better the connection of values and attitudes as segmentation bases and actual consumer behavior,” the academics argued.

“This study also develops insights to give guidance in the choice of the most appropriate base for a segmentation analysis with the goal of examining online-marketing responsiveness behavior.

“In this case, attitudes appear to produce better results than human values. The results also show, however, that fashion attitudes produced much better results than online-shopping attitudes.

“This finding underlines the importance of choosing the most appropriate domain of attitudes, because several domains are possible for a given research context.”

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff