Is Segmentation a Theory? Improving the Theoretical Basis of a Foundational Concept in Business-to-business Marketing

Thomas Ritter*, Carsten Lund Pedersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Despite segmentation's importance for marketing in general and the extensive research published on the topic over several decades, business-to-business segmentation is still not fully developed as a general theory—a status that may decrease academic interest in the field. Based on a recent contribution on the definition and typology of theory, this paper explores the degree to which segmentation can be considered a theory and, more specifically, which elements and perspectives are currently underdeveloped. We highlight some fundamental challenges that must be addressed to establish a better theoretical foundation for segmentation's evolution into a more developed theory. We also present questions for future research to guide the advancement of business-to-business segmentation, which is necessary for a concept so central to business-to-business marketing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Pages (from-to)82-92
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Published online: 7 December 2023.


  • Segmentation
  • Theory
  • Customer need
  • Research
  • Buying behavior

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