Publication Details

This article was originally published as: Dolnicar, S, Beyond "Commensense segmentation" - A systematics of segmentation approaches in tourism, Journal of Travel Research, 2004, 42(3), 244-250. Copyright Sage Publications Ltd 2004.


Market segmentation is an accepted tool in strategic marketing. It helps to understand and serve the needs of homogeneous consumer sub-populations. Two approaches are recognized: a priori and data-driven (a posteriori, Mazanec, 2000; post-hoc, Wedel & Kamakura, 1998) segmentation. In tourism there is a long history of a priori segmentation studies both in industry and academia. These lead to the identification of tourist groups derived from dividing the population according to prior knowledge (“commonsense segmentation”). However, due to the wide use of this approach, there is not much room for competitive advantage to be gained by using a priori segmentation. This article (1) reviews segmentation studies in tourism, (2) proposes a systematics of segmentation approaches, and (3) illustrates the managerial usefulness of novel approaches emerging from this systematics. The main aim is to offer academics and practitioners a “menu” of exploratory techniques that can be used to increase market understanding.



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