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A theoretical approach to segmenting children’s walking behaviour

Lisa Schuster (School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Krzysztof Kubacki (Marketing, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Sharyn Rundle-Thiele (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 15 June 2015




This paper aims to extend research applying the principle of market segmentation to gain insight into changing the physical activity behaviour of children, particularly their walk to/from school behaviour. It further examined the utility of employing theory, specifically the theory of planned behaviour (TPB), for this purpose. Childhood obesity is a leading public health concern globally.


An online survey was conducted with 512 caregivers of primary school children. Caregivers were targeted given their control over children’s walk to/from school behaviour. Two-step cluster analysis, based on 14 geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioural variables, was used to investigate groupings within the data set.


The analysis revealed three distinct segments of caregivers, each with unique beliefs about their children walking to/from school: short-distance frequent walkers, middle-distance sporadic walkers and long-distance non-walkers. Four variables were found to be highly important in distinguishing these segments: distance to school, current walk to/from school behaviour, subjective norms and intentions to increase their child’s walk to school behaviour.


The paper demonstrates the usefulness of behavioural, geographic and psychographic variables, as measured by the TPB, in distinguishing segments, offering an important contrast to prior segmentation studies emphasising demographic variables. This result provides empirical evidence of the value of using the four segmentation bases, extending beyond a demographic focus, and the importance of incorporating behavioural theory in market segmentation. In so doing, this research provides key insights into changing children’s walking behaviour.



This research was funded and supported by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth).


Schuster, L., Kubacki, K. and Rundle-Thiele, S. (2015), "A theoretical approach to segmenting children’s walking behaviour", Young Consumers, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 159-171.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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