Friday, June 3, 2016

Segmenting Voters

Segmentation always begins with in-depth qualitative research to understand hopes, aspirations, fears, anxieties, beliefs, attitudes and values. This can take the form of depth interviews, mini-groups or more traditional focus groups. There are also online qualitative research methodologies. 

While segmentation can be based on demographics, psychographics, cohort groups, geography and behaviors, basing it on attitudinal statements often yields the richest insight into motivation. 

For voters, there are differences between people of different ages, genders, races, religious affiliations, socio-economic groups and geographies. However, the most insight can be gained by exploring hopes and fears associated with the following dimensions, which typically can be represented along continua:
  • Sense of personal competence and mastery
  • Feeling left behind and powerless versus empowered and a change agent
  • Belief in the innate goodness (versus evil) of humanity
  • Moral absolutism versus moral relativity
  • Degree to which one believes that life is a "zero sum" game versus a state of unlimited potential
  • Degree to which one thinks competitively versus cooperatively
  • How broadly one views one's "tribe" (my family, people of my race or religion versus all of humanity or all sentient beings)
  • Belief in the innate equality of all individuals
  • Focus on helping others versus self-reliance
  • Where a person is on Maslow's hierarchy of needs
  • Degree to which one feels "safe"
  • How strongly one embraces personal autonomy, freedom and liberty for all
  • Attitudes regarding rules, laws and authority
  • Fear of power concentrated in government
  • Fear of power concentrated in corporations
  • Fear of power concentrated in religion
  • View of the role of government in people's lives
  • Which form of government one thinks works best
  • Which economic system one thinks works best
  • Pragmatism versus staunch commitment to an idea
  • Openness to new ideas and change

Insights on these dimensions can be correlated/mapped to demographic, geographic and other more actionable targeting criteria. These insights can also lead to the identification of "wedge issues" and talking points that can be exploited to steer voters in specific market segments to vote in specific ways.

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