When students finish this chapter they should understand why:
• A consumer’s personality influences the way he or she responds to marketing stimuli, but efforts to use this information in marketing contexts have met with mixed results.
• Consumers’ lifestyles are key to many marketing strategies.
• Psychographics go beyond simple demographics in helping marketers understand and reach different consumer segments.
• Identifying patterns of consumption can be superior to knowledge of individual purchases when crafting a lifestyle marketing strategy.
The study of personality is one of the most interesting undertaken in studies of consumer behavior (it is also one of the more difficult explorations). The concept of personality refers to a person’s unique psychological makeup and how it consistently influences the way a person responds to his or her environment. When marketers attempt to use personality in formulating marketing strategy, several difficulties may arise. Among the most common difficulties are the differences in personality traits among consumers and problems with measurement of the traits. A variety of schools of thought (such as Freudian psychology) have been applied to these studies. Only mixed results have been achieved. Several schools of thought are explored in the chapter.
In addition to the personality of the consumer being of interest to the marketer, brands are also thought to have personalities. Brand equity refers to the extent that a consumer holds strong, favorable, and unique associations about a brand in memory. Personality dimensions can be used to compare and contrast the perceived characteristics of brands (such as old fashioned, rugged, outdoors, sexy, etc.). The creation and communication of a distinctive brand personality is one of the primary ways marketers can make a product stand out from the competition and inspire years of loyalty to it.
A consumer’s lifestyle refers to the ways he or she chooses to spend time and money and how his or her values and tastes are reflected by consumption choices. Marketers use lifestyle research as a means to track societal consumption preferences and also to position specific products and services to different segments. Marketers can segment by lifestyle differences, often by grouping consumers in terms of their AIOs (activities, interests, and opinions).
Psychographic techniques attempt to classify consumers in terms of psychological, subjective variables in addition to observable characteristics (demographics). A variety of systems, such as VALS, have been developed to identify consumer “types” and to differentiate them in terms of their brand or product preferences, media usage, leisure time activities, and attitudes toward such broad issues as politics and religion.
Interrelated sets of products and activities are associated with social roles to form consumption constellations. People often purchase a product or service because it is associated with a constellation that, in turn, is linked to a lifestyle they find desirable.
Place of residence often is a significant determinant of lifestyle. Many marketers recognize regional differences in product preferences and develop different versions of their products for different markets. A set of techniques called geodemography analyzes consumption patterns using geographical and demographic data and identifies clusters of consumers who exhibit similar psychographic characteristics.
The chapter concludes by discussing lifestyle trends with respect to consumer behavior for the new millennium. These major trends are characterized as being: a decline in concern for the environment, an emphasis on the value of time-saving products, decreased emphasis on dieting and nutritional foods, and a more laid-back lifestyle and casual work environment.
a. Personality refers to a...