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Decision‐based voter segmentation: an application for campaign message development

Joan M. Phillips (School of Business Administration, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Thomas J. Reynolds (Strategic Research, Development and Assessment, Wilson, Wyoming, USA)
Kate Reynolds (Strategic Research, Development and Assessment, Wilson, Wyoming, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 6 April 2010




The purpose of this study was to demonstrate how the segmentation of voters based on decision‐making processes, using means‐end laddering research innovations and real‐time interactive online interviewing, can aid in the formation of political communications strategy, including theme and message development.


To demonstrate the application of these innovations in a political context, the paper uses data from a sample of 114 voters who were interviewed during the 2004 US presidential election campaign. The paper draws on three recent innovations to the means‐end laddering methodology: elicitation questioning techniques that allow for a decision equity analysis between targeted groups; decision segmentation analysis; and real‐time interactive online interviewing; and applies them to an electoral context. It provides an interpretation of the identified decision segments and an exposition of how these common networks of meaning can serve as the basis for targeted theme and message development.


These three innovations, in concert, were found to provide an efficient set of methods to serve as the foundation for the campaign message development process.


This paper provides deterministic research techniques for campaign strategists who want to understand voter decision making and demonstrates a combination of methodological and technological innovations that addresses the time, cost, and geographic limitations often associated with conducting voter decision making research.



Phillips, J.M., Reynolds, T.J. and Reynolds, K. (2010), "Decision‐based voter segmentation: an application for campaign message development", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 44 No. 3/4, pp. 310-330.



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