A Life Review As a Research and Segmentation Variable

Life reviews, often known as an inventory or appraisal of life accomplishments, can take many forms. Some may choose to reexamine past experiences while others focus on family or relationship dynamics or major turning points in life.

Exhibit 1 shows how lifestyle can be defined and operationalized differently across marketing literature, making the concept an inexact research tool and segmentation variable. Exhibit 1 illustrates this by showing that most references to “lifestyle” provide no explicit definition, with any that do containing internal inconsistencies and contradictory claims. Lazer (1963) offered the initial explicit definition in consumer analysis literature focusing on its symbolic contextual significance but his interpretation ultimately proved tautological.

Contemporary interpretations in marketing literature generally refer to lifestyle as both characteristic patterns of overt behavior and internalized attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and interests that fuel it (cognitive style). Such definitions imply that cognitive styles and overt behaviors exist in harmony – however this assumption is unsupported by behavioral and consumer research, which shows their distinct and disparate characteristics.

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This paper revives lifestyle as an analytical and research tool by delineating its two distinct aspects – cognitive and overt. It then documents an intuitive yet imperfect symmetry and complementarity between lifestyle research and psychographics, suggesting sequential segmentation can provide useful insights combining consistency in overt behavior with congruence in cognitive styles for better use of both.

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