“Segment! Segment!! Segment!!! Never work on market level averages. Average distort reality!”  A very common advice in the B-school especially for those who have taken Market Intelligence or are preparing for consulting case interviews. But it is surprising to see how often the real world businesses completely ignore it. Not sure whether they are not aware of this, are too lazy to go ahead with an extra-level of data-analysis, or maybe (actually, most probably), they actually want to “distort reality”.

Case in point is the cartoon that I located in USA Today last week:

US Today: Spending by significant others
Well, I am not sure if this study has any significant meaning for the reader. The source that says “1000 adults 18 and older” doesn’t help either! Maybe education and income level may have been an overkill, but I don’t think it would have been too tough to present the data by gender. At the very least, they could have shared the breakdown of the people surveyed. It would have been good to see whether the conventional wisdom that women love to spend and men are more conservative in spending is still true or are the things changing. (I think they did try to guess the former of the two possibilities: see the position of the lady and the men relative to the two main data-pieces.

I know that this isn’t very serious topic, but when you are carrying something on the front page of your newspaper, it better carry at least some meaning.


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