Publication Details

This chapter was originally published as: Dolnicar, S, Towards more thorough data-driven segmentation in tourism - a tracking framework for exploring segment development, in Crouch, GI, Perdue, RR, Timmermans, HJP, et al, (eds.), Consumer Psychology of Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure, 2004, CAB International, New York, 245-252. Book information available here.


Market segmentation has become a standard concept in tourism marketing. A priori and a posteriori (data-driven, post-hoc) segmentation approaches enjoy high popularity among both practitioners and researchers. In order to optimise the market segmentation strategy it is not only necessary to identify relevant market segments, describe them, evaluate the match between corporate or destination strengths and segment needs but to understand how segments develop over time. This knowledge is typically accounted for when a priori segments are used. In the case of a posteriori segments, however, such trend tracking is neglected. In this paper a simple tracking framework is presented that allows testing of a posteriori segment developments over time on the basis of identical consecutive guest surveys. It comprises the following steps: (1) definition of the anchor period, (2) computation of a data-driven market segmentation solution, (3) characterisation of market segments, (4) assignment of data from other periods to the anchor segment solution, (5) testing of distribution changes, (6) testing of changes in background variables and (7) validation of results. The framework is flexible with regard to methods applied at each step and – through validation of explorative findings by means of repetition – allows insight into market structure from multiple perspectives.