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Keywords:

  • Audience Segmentation;
  • Marketing Research;
  • High-Risk Drinking;
  • Public Health

Background:  Market or audience segmentation is widely used in social marketing efforts to help planners identify segments of a population to target for tailored program interventions. Market-based segments are typically defined by behaviors, attitudes, knowledge, opinions, or lifestyles. They are more helpful to health communication and marketing planning than epidemiologically defined groups because market-based segments are similar in respect to how they behave or might react to marketing and communication efforts. However, market segmentation has rarely been used in alcohol research. As an illustration of its utility, we employed commercial data that describes the sociodemographic characteristics of high-risk drinkers as an audience segment, including where they tend to live, lifestyles, interests, consumer behaviors, alcohol consumption behaviors, other health-related behaviors, and cultural values. Such information can be extremely valuable in targeting and planning public health campaigns, targeted mailings, prevention interventions, and research efforts.

Methods:  We described the results of a segmentation analysis of those individuals who self-reported to consume 5 or more drinks per drinking episode at least twice in the last 30 days. The study used the proprietary PRIZM™ (Claritas, Inc., San Diego, CA) audience segmentation database merged with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) database. The top 10 of the 66 PRIZM™ audience segments for this risky drinking pattern are described. For five of these segments we provided additional in-depth details about consumer behavior and the estimates of the market areas where these risky drinkers resided.

Results:  The top 10 audience segments (PRIZM clusters) most likely to engage in high-risk drinking are described. The cluster with the highest concentration of binge-drinking behavior is referred to as the “Cyber Millenials.” This cluster is characterized as “the nation’s tech-savvy singles and couples living in fashionable neighborhoods on the urban fringe.” Almost 65% of Cyber Millenials households are found in the Pacific and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. Additional consumer behaviors of the Cyber Millenials and other segments are also described.

Conclusions:  Audience segmentation can assist in identifying and describing target audience segments, as well as identifying places where segments congregate on- or offline. This information can be helpful for recruiting subjects for alcohol prevention research as well as planning health promotion campaigns. Through commercial data about high-risk drinkers as “consumers,” planners can develop interventions that have heightened salience in terms of opportunities, perceptions, and motivations, and have better media channel identification.