It’s a universal truth of marketing that not all people will be receptive to the same message. Just like how a speaker tailors their presentation depending on the audience, marketers change their message, too.
So to help people change their travel behavior – to drive alone less – it would be helpful for transportation demand managers to segment the commuting public into different types of travelers, defined by their attitudes and habits. And that’s exactly what researchers from the University of South Florida set out to accomplish in their new study, an American version of a similar project in Europe.
The study, SEGEMENT, begins by dividing survey respondents at the outset into two categories: drivers and non-drivers (interestingly, non-drivers in the U.S. are defined as people who drive one day a week or less, but in Europe, non-drivers didn’t drive at all during the week). From there, researchers Phil Winters and Amy Lester segmented non-drivers into three distinct categories and drivers into four.
These segments are meant to guide transportation demand management practitioners to create effective marketing and incentive strategies for each group. But, like any personality schema – astrology included – they’re also really fun.
Here are the eight segments of commuters found by the study. Which commuter are you?
Non-driver: “Open-minded and practical travelers”
Although this group of non-drivers believes that people are entitled to use whatever mode they want as much as they want – including driving their cars and trucks alone – they’re also open-minded to other modes, like trains, walking, biking, and more. However, they are not motivated to change their behavior because of climate change.
Non-driver: “Car-free choosers”
This group has positive attitudes towards public transportation, biking, walking, and other car-free modes. They don’t think they need to own a car (they consider car ownership as too expensive and unnecessary) and they care about protecting the environment.
Non-driver: “Car contemplators”
This group believes that car ownership is a sign of success. They prefer to travel by car over other modes because to them, car travel is the least stressful. They’re aware of the health benefits of biking and walking but don’t want to do it. They don’t think car travel should be curtailed and even though they believe in climate change, they don’t think that people should limit their vehicle travel as a response.
Driver: “Malcontented motorists and non-biker”
This segment believes it’s important to reduce vehicle miles traveled because of traffic, noise pollution, and (to a lesser extent) climate change, but they drive because they think it’s faster than public transportation. They also don’t like biking even though they acknowledge its health benefits.
Driver: “Car lovers and devoted drivers”
As stated, this group loves to drive. According to the researchers, “they believe that driving is a way to express themselves.” They don’t believe that driving should be curtailed or that it leads to an unhealthy lifestyle and have very negative attitudes towards public transportation, biking, and walking. They also believe that the threats of climate change are exaggerated.
Driver: “Active aspirer”
This group would drive less if they could. They believe driving is faster than public transportation but also that it’s much more expensive. They have positive attitudes towards transit, walking, and biking and believe that driving should be curtailed to protect the environment, reduce traffic, and lower noise pollution. “If this group has to use a car to get to work, they would like to carpool,” according to Winters and Lester.
Driver: “Open-minded car lovers”
This group believes driving is faster and cheaper than public transportation (which they have negative attitudes towards) but believe that walking and biking have health benefits. Even though they love to drive, they believe driving should be limited because of traffic “noise and odor.”
This article is from our new series exploring the connections between behavioral economics and transportation. This week, we’ll be breaking down behavioral economics research to understand why people make the transportation decisions they do – and how we can build a transportation network that works for everyone. Press the image to see the series.
Original photo (before the edits) by Mike Lewinski on Flickr.