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This paper introduces a technique called "Customer Profiling," which provides a very clear starting point for psychographic research and for market segmentation. Customer Profiling uses a laddering procedure to describe a very specific member of a target subsegment in detail. The assumption is that the insights obtained from describing and analyzing this individual can frequently be generalized across a broader segment.
To examine the effectiveness of this technique, two groups of marketing managers and account managers were asked to describe three segments of adults who would be most likely to be members of a public radio station. One group was told they could use any segmentation method they wanted, while the other group of managers was asked to use customer profiling.
Those managers using the customer profiling technique were significantly more accurate in predicting membership status than those managers who had instead used conventional segmentation methods.
Wansink, Brian (1994). Developing and Validating Useful Consumer Prototypes. Journal of Targeting, Measurement and Analysis for Marketing, 3(1), 18–30.