Using global segmentation to grow a business
An United Airlines case study

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Page 6: Global segmentation and growth strategies

There are clear differences between domestic segments and global segments. For example, international segments might differ by hours rather than minutes in the US, and the cost of domestic travel is also significantly lower. In global segments United Airlines identifiednine motivational segment profiles. These are:

  • Global executives: face frequent business travel and enjoy it because of the high level of service.
  • Schedule optimizers: must reach their destination by a certain time and select their flights accordingly.
  • Corporate troopers: use an airline and a class of travel that has been chosen for them by their company.
  • Mile accumulators: go out of their way to take flights that will build up their air miles entitlement.
  • Reluctant travellers: do not enjoy travel and look for services that will make the experience bearable e.g. special privileges and frequent flyer programmes.
  • Tour takers: want everything arranged for them.
  • Quality vacationers: treat the travel as part of the holiday experience and so fly with carriers that provide superior services.
  • Travel seekers: love to travel and seek out new experiences. They want travel to be comfortable.
  • Frugal flyers: seek out the lowest cost carriers, but still expect their flight experience to be a good one.

Having identified these segments, United Airlines had to decide on which ones to concentrate. One key factor was the potential of each sector to generate not only revenue but also profit. In some segments, such as global executives, the customer profile was clear-cut regarding who they were and what they required so compiling a package of services for them was comparatively straightforward. However, some segments were less responsive to key benefits and it proved harder to identify precisely what they were most looking for.

With global executives as the target market, the airline also developed packages for schedule optimizers, mile accumulators, travel seekers, corporate troopers and quality vacationers.

United Airlines | Using global segmentation to grow a business