Is Market Segmentation Simply Discrimination in Disguise?

Concerned Students Want to Know

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We've received a query at Ad Age from college students doing a project about market segmentation and targeting. This particular group, whether through assignment or choice, finds itself in the position of arguing that market segmentation -- targeting ads to consumers based on race, culture, gender, age, etc. -- is just "discrimination in disguise." In short, my answer is "absolutely not." I'm going to spare everyone my long-winded answer for now so as not to sway opinion. Further, I don't know anyone in the industry who'd make the argument that it is. But that doesn't mean you aren't out there. So, can anyone make the argument that market segmentation is some sort of nefarious discrimination? Drop your answers in the comment section.

And please try to keep in mind that this is a separate issue from agency discrimination, diversity problems and the issue of general-market shops swiping business from ethnic or specialty shops. This is a chance to help students, not to get up on your soap box.

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