Understanding of customers’ wants and needs is the starting point of any business endeavor. This philosophy is alive and well as marketers design Customer-Centric Organization adopt the customer’s viewpoint, listen to the voice of the customer, and try to get into the head of the customer. In fact, knowing what and how customers think has become one of the primary concerns of marketers. Such preoccupations are legitimate since research shows that the creation and implementation of successful marketing strategies require an advanced understanding of customers. However well understood customers are, assessing the size of potential target segments relative to the overall market is also necessary. This double constraint has required managers to make trade-offs between the depth with which each customer’s cognition is represented and the ability to categorize customers into quantifiable segments.
The objective of cognitive segmentation is to group individuals according to their cognitive content and structure by (1) capturing cognition of each customer while incorporating their semantic uniqueness, and (2) Integrating and comparing those cognitions on a large scale. It is, to our knowledge, the only segmentation technique that is directly based on respondents’ cognitive content and structure. Cognitive segmentation provides two additional benefits. First, respondents guide themselves through the procedure, which minimizes potential researcher involvement bias. Second, cognitive segmentation allows the researcher to deconstruct respondents’ cognition at various depths, which enriches the analysis and interpretation of customers’ segments.
According to personal content theory of customers “the structure and content of an individual’s knowledge is represented by a set of personal constructs that are shaped as a function of how accurately they can predict future outcomes. By observing their environment, individuals collect information to form expectations about future events. These anticipations are then tested as individuals experience these events, ultimately leading to their support or contradiction. People seek to experience specific situations where their personal constructs are likely to be used. The theory is that individuals understand events through a similarity and contrasting process in order to acquire meaning.Current Directions in Cognitive Science
In a nut shell, based on customers’ cognitive structure and content, cognitive segmentation allows researchers to collect insights from participants in their own language as well as to quantitatively transpose these insights by estimating how close their meanings are to a benchmark. Thus, marketers can more precisely differentiate products or services and, at the same time, assess which points are most likely to represent a viable advantage based on the degree to which customer cognitions are consistent with the product offering. Cognitive segmentation brings an operational component to the brand philosophy brought forth by the marketing concept that any marketing endeavor should stem from a consideration of the customer’s viewpoint.
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