Purpose - This paper aims to report a research methodology that is used to identify business buyer segments by relating demographic indicators to the needs of various market segments. Design/methodology/approach - The research was based on a survey in the office systems industry. The respondents were asked to evaluate the importance of marketing services that are used by dealers to select, evaluate, and retain vendors. Findings - Market segments were identified and categorized using demographic and need-based data. Discriminant analysis was able to distinguish between demographic market segments and to identify these segments based on their market needs. Practical implications - This paper demonstrates a methodology to identify customer needs based on demographic data, lowering the cost of identifying the product and service needs of different market segments. Originality/value - Demographic and need-based business segmentation methods are widely used, However, empirically based research that bridges the gap between these two segmentation processes has not been previously reported. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.