Making Sense of Market Segmentation: A Fashion Retailing Case

Lee Quinn, Tony Hines, David Bennison

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    55 Citations (Scopus)


    – The purpose is: first to review the marketing segmentation literature and its antecedents; second, to evaluate the organizational practice of marketing segmentation in a specific commercial context noted for its dynamism and complexity, fashion retailing; third, to assess theoretical and practical implications; and finally to identify an agenda for future research.

    – Through the analysis of an instrumental case study examining practice in fashion retailing this paper makes a contribution to current market segmentation debates. Sensemaking properties are used as a disciplined structure in which to report the case and make sense of segmentation.

    – This research demonstrates that the definition and scope of market segmentation is broader than the current marketing literature suggests. In practice, based on evidence from this research, contemporary segmentation solutions include implicit assumptions, judgement and compressed experience, which are latent within the modelling processes.

    Research limitations/implications
    – Further research needs to be extended to different organizational settings in order to develop further our understanding of the tacit and intuitive aspects of segmentation decisions.

    Practical implications
    – Intuitive decision‐making processes and tacit knowledge employed in them are difficult to replicate and make explicit. However, a better understanding of these intuitive processes would offer practitioners an opportunity to systematically improve the quality of decision‐making.

    – This research broadens normative theoretical perspectives on market segmentation by highlighting intuitive and tacit dimensions. Combining sensemaking within the case study analysis has helped structure thought trials to provide a rare qualitative insight into the managerial construction of segmentation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)439-465
    Number of pages27
    JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
    Issue number5-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Market segmentation
    • Fashion industry,
    • Retailing
    • Decision making
    • Marketing strategy


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