Tourism Marketing: Branding and Segmentation

Destination Marketers Seek to Understand their Visitors

Project Objective:

Destination marketers sought help to better understand potential visitors to specific Caribbean islands to aid in their re-branding efforts of those islands.

Specific objectives of the qualitative research included:

  • Identify deep emotional needs met by travel to an island destination
  • Compare results by segment using Metaphor Elicitation

Research Methodology:

Metaphor Elicitation was used to further develop segments based on geographic and demographic characteristics as well as phychographic characteristics. Respondents were asked to answer questions by choosing images rather than using words, forcing them to access deeper, subconscious attitudes, was used to develop segments of travelers. Respondents were first asked to select an image from a bank of 500+ that best captured the essence of a Caribbean vacationer. They were next asked to describe what they saw in the image, and then their interpretation of that image. Respondents then completed the same steps for a second question: Select an image that best captures what it means to take a vacation. For example:




The research resulted in three mutually exclusive and nearly equal sized segments: Enthusiastic (37%), Immersive (32%), and Relaxed (31%) travelers.

  • All three segments valued similar vacation experiences, but used varying imagery and themes to identify and describe those experiences.
    • For example, three different images were selected to represent relaxation: Enthusiastics had a focus on rejuvenation and reflection, Immersives toward themes of escape, and Relaxers focused on sensual themes.
  • Through imagery, different personality traits, approaches to life, and activities enjoyed were brought to light.
  • Preferences and motivations for travel, travel habits and styles as well as part and future travel plans were also built in to the segments.
  • Metaphor Elicitation allowed MDRG to understand a more emotional side to the travelers, including their desires and goals for taking or being on vacation.


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