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Segmenting cyberspace: a customer typology for the internet

Stuart J. Barnes (Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Hans H. Bauer (Department of Business Administration and Marketing II, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany)
Marcus M. Neumann (Department of Business Administration and Marketing II, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany)
Frank Huber (Department of Business Administration and Marketing II, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 20 January 2007




This research sets about discovering if it is possible to identify distinct, practice‐relevant and addressable clusters by means of selected criteria for constructing typologies – such as psychographic, culturally‐specific and purchasing behaviour‐relevant features – which permit an online supplier to efficiently and effectively focus on attractive consumer segments.


To answer the research question, the study conducted an online survey with 1,011 participants. The respondents were from three countries, each with culturally‐distinct features: France, Germany and the US. Underpinning the research are theoretically‐secured constructs of purchasing behaviour on the internet.


Cluster analysis confirmed the outstanding validity of a three‐cluster‐solution (97.7 per cent score) – risk‐averse doubters, open‐minded online shoppers, and reserved information‐seekers. Discriminant analysis shows that certain constructs, particularly “neuroticism”, “willingness to buy” and “shopping pleasure”, separate the clusters best.

Research limitations/implications

An extension of our clustering approach to more countries and especially non‐western cultures promises interesting results. Furthermore, researchers are encouraged to enlarge the catalogue of clustering variables to allow an even more specific fine‐tuning of the main clusters identified in this research.

Practical implications

The classification created provides the potential for a much closer fit between a company's goods and services and heterogeneous customer needs.


The principal contribution of the paper is the identification of three different clusters of internet users. This can be of good use for shaping internet marketing, particularly by virtue of the likely stability over time from cultural and personality characteristics.



Barnes, S.J., Bauer, H.H., Neumann, M.M. and Huber, F. (2007), "Segmenting cyberspace: a customer typology for the internet", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 41 No. 1/2, pp. 71-93.



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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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