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A fascinating article in the Journal of Marketing (April 1986), "The Nine Nations of North America and the Value Basis of Geographic Segmentation," Professor Lynn Kahle explores the possible marketing implications of Joel Garreau's idea of the nine nations.
Garreau traveled extensively throughout North America, studying people, customs, traditions, and ways of life. This research led Garreau to the conclusion that state boundaries or the Census Bureau's divisions of the United States into regions are not very indicative of the cultural and social boundaries that really exist on the continent. Instead, Garreau suggested in his best-selling book The Nine Nations of North America (New York: Avon, 1981) that the real boundaries divide the entire North American continent into nine separate, homogeneous regions, which he called "nations." Each nation, according to Garreau, is inhabited by people who share the same traditions, values, hopes, and world outlook and are different from the people of the other nations. The nine nations cross national boundaries of the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Garreau named his nations very descriptively, as follows: New England, Quebec, The Foundry, Dixie, The Islands, Empty Quarter Breadbasket, MexAmerica, and Ecotopia. Exhibit 1 shows the boundaries of these nations.
Geographic segmentation is a very important concept in marketing. Thus, Garreau's novel idea promised potential gains in marketing. Professor Kahle suggested a statistical test of whether Garreau's division of the country (without the nation of Quebec, which lies entirely outside the United States) could be found valid with respect to marketing-related values. Such a division could then replace currently used geographic segmentation methods.
Two currently used segmentation schemes studied by Kahle were the quadrants and the Census Bureau regions. Kahle used a random sample of 2,235 people across the country and collected responses pertaining to eight self-assessed personal attributes: self-respect, security, warm relationships with others, sense of accomplishment, self-fulfillment, being well respected, sense of belonging, and fun-enjoyment-excitement. Kahle showed that these self-assessment attributes were directly related to marketing variables. The attributes determine, for example, the magazines a person is likely to read and the television programs he or she is likely to watch.
Kahle's results, using the nine-nations division (without Quebec), the quadrants division, and the Census division of the country, are presented in Exhibits 2 through 4. These tables are reprinted by permission from Kahle (1986).
Carefully analyze the results presented in the exhibits. Is the nine-nations segmentation a useful alternative to the quadrants or the Census Bureau divisions of the country? Explain.
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