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Bracket Science Meets Marketing Segmentation

Over the years, people have come up with inventive ways to fill out their NCAA tournament brackets. For all of the marketers out there, though, I’d like to propose a creative alternative: let’s see what happens if we fill out our tournament brackets based on the concentration of the top basketball-crazy segments found in a college team’s home market.

These are the five segments of the population (based on Experian’s Mosaic USA lifestyle segmentation system) with the highest concentration of households who say they are either very interested or somewhat interested in college basketball (based on Experian Simmons market research):

Top 5 College Basketball Segments
# Segment Name Percent College Hoops Fans
1 Dream Weavers 28%
2 Enterprising Couples 26%
3 Small-Town Success 25%
4 America’s Wealthiest 25%
5 America’s Farmlands 23%
  Total U.S. 18%

The “Dream Weaver” Bracket

Dream Weavers is first in our ranking of segments that have an interest in college basketball. These are affluent, suburban professionals with school-aged children. Advertisers might be interested to know that Dream Weavers are a prime audience for luxury SUVs and automobiles including BMW and Mercedes, they shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, own iPhones, enjoy dining at steakhouses, and are heavy business travelers. About 28% of adults from this segment are college hoops fans.

When ranking the home market areas of all 68 teams within the four tournament regions based on the percentage of Dream Weaver households, the projected Final Four would look like this:

Teams with Highest “Dream Weaver” Segment Populations
Team Home Market Area Index
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 260
University of North Carolina Raleigh-Cary, NC 223
University of Akron Akron, OH 216
Butler University Indianapolis, IN 195

An index of 260 means that Ann Arbor MI contains 2.6 times more Dream Weaver households compared to the corresponding percentage of Dream Weaver households in the U.S.

Using this same methodology, we can also rank the bottom feeders. Which team has the fewest Dream Weavers? That would be Kansas State (Manhattan KS).

The “Enterprising Couples” Bracket

The segment with the second highest concentration of college basketball fans is Enterprising Couples. These are married couples with and without children living in upper-middle class commuter communities. Advertisers can take advantage of the fact that Enterprising Couples are more likely to drive Hyundai automobiles, enjoy dining at California Pizza Kitchen and Carrabba’s Italian Grill, shop at Home Depot, Costco, and Sears, participate in water sports, and visit aquariums and museums.

Top Four Teams with Highest “Enterprising Couples” Segment Populations
Team Home Market Area Index
Georgetown University Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV 542
George Mason University Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV 542
Florida University Gainesville, FL 323
Duke University Durham, NC 305

At the bottom of the Enterprising Couples list is Indiana State (Terre-Haute IN).

The “Small Town Success” Bracket

Next is the segment with the third highest concentration of college basketball fans, “Small-Town Success.” These are college educated and white collar couples living in newer subdivisions outside of the nation’s beltways. This segment is more likely to own Chrysler automobiles and entry level SUVs, enjoy dining at Panera Bread, Chick-Fil-A, and Red Robin, and shop at Target, Kohl’s, Coldwater Creek, and American Eagle Outfitters.

Top Four Teams with Highest “Small Town Success” Segment Populations
Team Home Market Area Index
Marquette University Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 302
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 291
University Wisconsin Madison, WI 276
Notre Dame University South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI 186

At the bottom of the list are UCLA and USC (Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana CA).

The “America’s Farmlands” Bracket

Last but not least, let’s consider America’s Farmlands. These are people with middle-class incomes living in older, single family homes in and around remote farming communities. Advertisers can capitalize on the fact that this segment drives Chevrolet and Ford automobiles, owns full size pickup trucks, dines at Dairy Queen, IHOP, Pizza Hut, and Arby’s, shops at Wal-Mart, and has generally conservative political opinions and viewpoints.

Top Four Teams with Highest “America’s Farmlands” Segment Populations
Team Home Market Area Index
Utah State University Logan, UT/ID 655
University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO 468
University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, IL 235
University of Kentucky Lexington-Fayette, KY 125

In the above examples, only one of our final four selections included a number one seeded team. That tells me this is not the best approach for predicting the outcome of the NCAA basketball tournament!

But not all is lost. The main point is that segmentation systems are excellent tools for the science of target marketing. What we really set out to accomplish through these examples is illustrate how a marketer would pinpoint specific areas of the country based on reaching a desired target audience. Have a product or service that would appeal to consumers who are Enterprising Couples? Then the Washington, D.C. market area represents a prime opportunity. Looking to locate a retail store surrounded by high concentrations of consumers who match the Small-town Success segment? Then Milwaukee and Madison, WI are excellent markets to consider. Advertisers may look to reach these markets by coordinating their campaigns around the NCAA basketball tournament.

There might be a great deal of guesswork applied to your final four bracket selections, but don’t leave your market selections to chance. Use segmentation tools to help you make the right choices!