Segmenting a Water Use Market: Theory of Interpersonal Behavior Insights

Ali Ibrahim, Kathy Knox, Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Denni Arli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Water scarcity due to climate change, low rainfall, and the damaging effects of human activity is a global concern. In the United Arab Emirates, water consumption rates are among the highest in the world. Recently, researchers have suggested social marketing might assist to change individual water consumption. Guided by the theory of interpersonal behavior (TIB), this study sought to identify segments in one water use market, drawing on demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral segmentation bases. A cross-sectional theoretically based online survey was designed based on the TIB constructs to collect data about one residential population’s water knowledge/awareness attitudes, emotions, religiosity, habits, surrounding social norms, and facilitating factors. E-mail invitations to complete the survey were sent to the target population. Two-step cluster analysis was used to analyze the data (N = 1350), and three major water user segments were identified (regular, conscious, and careless users), who could be characterized based on psychographic and water use (behavioral) determinants. Audience segmentation is often absent or done on the fly, and this article proposes that effectiveness could be improved by applying a rigorous and theoretically based approach. Opportunities for social marketers to develop interventions targeting specific user groups are subsequently identified, along with a future research agenda.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-17
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Marketing Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The authors received financial support from Griffith University to enable the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.


  • United Arab Emirates
  • segmentation
  • social marketing
  • theory of interpersonal behavior
  • water consumption


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