Lifestyle research stands at the boundary between a number of traditional academic disciplines, developing expertise from sociology and the social sciences in areas as distinct as business, retailing, marketing, understanding of consumers, and health and social care. The very diversity of fields and disciplines with an interest in lifestyle research creates complexity in an already dynamic and fast-changing area of research. Multifaceted approaches are used, alongside a variety of academic and business conventions, but typically, lifestyle research focuses on subgroups within the general population defined by age, occupation, religion, sexuality, medical conditions, or behaviors.
In terms of business research, this market segmentation of the consumer market is a key use for lifestyle research. As the importance of the consumer in determining the success of business operations has become increasingly clear to businesses, so the importance of lifestyle-based market segmentation has increased and the importance of ongoing cultural change has been recognized. Ongoing social and cultural change, both in purchasing dynamics, in related group behavior, and in lifestyle decision making are illuminated by lifestyle research but also act as a key source of information for strategic planning within business and for the ongoing development of successful corporate strategy.
The links between lifestyle research and the development of successful marketing strategies are currently being discussed within the academic literature, both from a management perspective and from a social science perspective. The development of an increasing understanding of the diverse research that contributes to this area of study is key to the ongoing development of successful and strategic business development. Typically, research in this area is grounded first in the concept of lifestyle and relates this to various aspects of an individual or group lifestyle. Key themes that may influence lifestyle include activities/behavior, values and attitudes, individuals versus groups, group interaction, coherence, recognizability, and choice.
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