Editor’s note: Peter Cronin is vice president, account executive at market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, Boston. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared under the title, “To label is to negate me (sometimes): The case for occasion-based segmentation.”   

One of my favorite lunchtime routines is to walk from my office over to the Trillium Brewing Company in nearby Seaport to grab a four-pack of their current small-batch, limited-time, freshly brewed double IPA.

As far as Trillium knows, I’m an “epicure” – a beer drinker characterized by my ardor and appreciation for craft beer.

During the summer months, I occasionally stop at BJ’s Wholesale Club to get a 30-pack of Corona (along with a couple of limes) because I like to have something to offer guests when hosting a cookout. In these instances, I’m looking for value but not necessarily the cheapest option because quality and image are still important to me. BJ’s might consider me an average “cost-aware enthusiast.”

Every year on my birthday, which typically coincides with the start of March Madness, I stop at my local beer store to buy a six-pack of Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. They probably consider me a “sports oriented” beer drinker.

So, who am I? A beer snob, a deal-seeking but conscientious host or a sports fan?

The answers are “all of the above” and “it depends.”  

In some categories (like beer) the same person may experience a variety of needs in any given time and make different choices based on those needs. Segmenting people by their dominant motivation/need risks majorly oversimplifying reality.

To understand opportunities for growth in categories like this, a better alternative is occasion-based segmentation. Rather than segmenting people into groups, occasion-based segmentation considers multiple use occasions instead of just one. As you can see from my examp...