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severalog

It's not your (segmentation) fault

J. Harry Caufield

Hi there. It's time for a quick market segmentation break. I'm talking about how marketers categorize their audience into different groups, i.e., young people vs. old people or single people vs. families. This segmentation can get very high-resolution once behavioral data enters the picture. You've likely seen those surveys about soda brands and political affiliations.*

For a quick look at your own local market segmentation, plug your ZIP code into this Nielsen site.
My neighborhood is rich in Up-And-Comers (younger people with college educations, no kids, and hybrid Nissan Altimas). If you've seen a lot of targeted advertising in recent years, it's not entirely your fault. Blame your neighbors.

There are some clear comparisons to be made here between marketing demographics and microbial ecology. The taxonomy tends to be more clear-cut when it comes to microbial species, but both microbes and humans occupy specific niches for specific reasons. I'd also guess that, much as microbial cultures usually involve more than one species,** human societies rarely match any specific market segment. If they did, the segmentation model wouldn't be terribly useful.

I tend to be inherently distrustful of marketing but its methods could offer some novel insights into microbial communities.

*Also relevant from that survey: the question "Is Olive Garden Authentic?"

**Plus phage!