Personality and Lifestyles
The study of personality is one of the most interesting undertaken in
studies of consumer behaviour (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 lecture.
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, favourable, 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
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 lecture concludes by discussing lifestyle trends with respect to
consumer behaviour for the new millennium. These major trends are
characterized as being: concern for the environment, an emphasis on the
value of time-saving products, decreased emphasis on dieting and
nutritional foods, and a more relaxed lifestyle and casual work
a. Personality refers to a person’s unique psychological makeup and
how it consistently influences the way a person responds to his or her
1) There has been debate about whether personality changes
with situations and circumstances.
a) Do people appear to act consistently? Research results are
2) Even though inconsistencies have been found in personality
research, it still continues to be included in marketing strategies.
3) Personality dimensions are usually employed in concert with a
person’s choices of leisure activities, political outlook, aesthetic tastes,
and other individual factors to segment consumers in terms of lifestyles.
2. Consumer Behaviour: Freudian Theory
a. Sigmund Freud developed the idea that much of one’s adult
personality stems from a fundamental conflict between a person’s desire
to gratify his or her physical needs and the necessity to function as a
responsible member of society. His principles (note that these terms do
not refer to physiological portions of the consumer’s brain) included:
1) The id (which is entirely oriented toward immediate
gratification). It operates on the pleasure principle (behaviour guided by
the primary desire to maximize pleasure and avoid pain).
a) The id is selfish.
b) The id is illogical (it acts without regard to consequences).
2) The superego (which is the counterweight to the id). It is a
a) It internalizes society’s rules.
b) It works to prevent the id from seeking selfish gratification.
3) The ego (which is the system that mediates between the id and
the superego). The ego tries to balance these two opposing forces
according to the reality principle, whereby it finds ways to gratify the id
that will be acceptable to the outside world. Much of this battle occurs in
the unconscious mind.
b. The Freudian perspective hints that the ego relies on symbolism in
products to make the compromise between the demands of the id and
the prohibitions of the superego.
c. There is a connection between product symbolism and motivation
(according to Freudian theory).
d. The first attempts to apply Freudian ideas to understand the
deeper meanings of products and advertisements were made in the
1950s and were known as motivational research.
1) This research focused on interpretations from the
subconscious (unconscious motives). This form of research relies on
depth interviews with individual consumers.
2) Ernest Dichter pioneered this form of interview.
3) Motivational research was attacked for two reasons:
a) Some felt that it does work, in fact, it worked too well. It
gave marketers the power to manipulate.
b) Others felt that the analysis technique lacked rigor and
4) Positives were that:
a) It was less expensive than traditional forms of motivational
b) It was thought to aid in marketing communications.
c) Some of the findings seem intuitively plausible after the
e. Those who studied after Freud felt that an individual’s personality
was more influenced by how he or she handled relationships with others
than by unresolved sexual conflicts. Famous advocates of this thought-
path (Neo-Freudians) were:
1) Karen Horney—she proposed that people can be described as
moving toward others (compliant), away from others (detached), or
against others (aggressive).
a) Alfred Adler—proposed that many actions are motivated by
people’s desire to overcome feelings of inferiority relative to others.
b) Harry Stack Sullivan—focused on how personality evolves
to reduce anxiety in social relationships.
2) Carl Jung—developed analytical psychology. He believed people
were shaped by the cumulative experiences of past generations. Central
to his ideas was the collective unconscious (a storehouse of memories
inherited from our ancestral past).
a) Shared memories create archetypes— universally shared
ideas and behaviour patterns.
b) These memories would be about birth, death, and the devil
(as shown in myths, stories, and dreams).
f. One approach to personality is to focus on the quantitative
measurement of traits or identifiable characteristics that define a person.
Common traits are:
5) Need for cognition
g. The trait dimension most relevant to consumer behaviour is the
extent to which consumers are inner-directed versus outer-directed.
1) Inner-directed individuals consume to express a unique sense
of self and tend to be classified as idiocentrics (having an individualistic
2) Outer-directed individuals consume to please others and fit in
and tend to be classified
as allocentrics (having a group orientation).
3) These two orientations differ in the areas of contentment,
health consciousness, food preparation, work, travel, and entertainment.
g. Using traits has only met with mixed success. Explanations
1) Many of the scales are not sufficiently valid or reliable.
2) Personality tests are often developed only for specific
3) Tests may not be administered under the best conditions.
4) Researchers make changes in the research instruments to
adapt them to their own situations.
5) Many trait scales are only intended to measure gross, overall
6) Many of the scales are not well planned or thought out.
h. Products, like consumers, have personalities.
1) Brand equity refers to the extent that a consumer holds
strong, favourable, and
unique associations about a brand in memory. Examples of
personality dimensions include old fashioned, wholesome, traditional,
and lively, among others.
2) Consumers seem to have little difficulty in assigning
personality qualities to all sorts of inanimate products.
3) 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. This is
called animism (whereby inanimate objects are given qualities that make
them somehow alive). It is an old practice.
a) Level 1: In the highest order of animism, the object is
believed to be possessed by the soul of a being (such as spokespersons in
b) Level 2: Objects are anthropomorphized—given human
3. Lifestyles and Psychographics
Lifestyle: Who We Are, What We Do
a. Lifestyle refers to a pattern of consumption reflecting a person’s
choices of how he or she spends time and money. It is (in an economic
sense) how one elects to allocate income.
1) A lifestyle marketing perspective recognizes that people sort
themselves into groups on the basis of the things they like to do, how
they like to spend their leisure time, and how they choose to spend their
2) These choices create marketing opportunities and chances for
3) Lifestyles can be thought of as group identities. It is more than
economics and income disposal choices.
a) Lifestyle is a statement of who one is and who one is not.
b) Other terms used to describe lifestyle are:
1. Taste public
2. Consumer group
3. Symbolic community
4. Status culture
c) Lifestyles are not set in stone unlike deep-seated values.
b. Products are the building blocks of lifestyles. Many choices are
made on this basis.
c. Because a goal of lifestyle marketing is to allow consumers to
pursue their chosen ways to enjoy their lives and express their social
identities, a key aspect of this strategy is to focus on product usage in
desirable social settings.
d. The adoption of a lifestyle-marketing perspective implies that we
must look at patterns of behaviour to understand consumers.
1) Co-branding strategies are used by marketers to combine
products that appeal to similar patterns of behaviour.
2) Product complementarity occurs when the symbolic meanings
of different products are related to each other.
3) These products, termed consumption constellations, are used
by consumers to define, communicate, and perform social roles.
e. Psychographics involves the use of psychological, sociological,
and anthropological factors to determine how the market is segmented
by the propensity of groups within the market (and their reasons) to
make a particular decision about a product, person, ideology, or
otherwise hold an attitude or use a medium.
1) Psychographics can help a marketer fine-tune its offerings to
meet the needs of different segments.
2) The roots of psychographics were in:
a) Motivational research, which involves intensive one-to-one
interviews and projective tests (yields a lot of information on a few
b) Quantitative survey research (at the other extreme), which
uses large-scale demographic research techniques.
3) Psychographics is often used interchangeably with lifestyle.
4) Psychographics focuses on why people buy. Demographics
tells us who buys.
5) Psychographic analysis can take several forms:
a) A lifestyle profile
b) A product-specific product
c) A study that uses personality traits as descriptors
d) A general lifestyle segmentation
e) A product-specific segmentation
f. Most contemporary psychographic research attempts to group
consumers according to some combination of three categories of
variables—Activities, Interests, and Opinions (AIOs).
1) To group consumers into common AIO categories, respondents
are given a long list of statements and are asked to indicate how much
they agree with each one. Lifestyle is “boiled down” by how consumers
spend their time, what they find interesting and important, and how they
view themselves and the world around them, as well as demographic
2) Which lifestyle segments produce the bulk of consumers? This
is answered (marketers must be careful to observe) by the 20/80
principle where only 20 percent of a product’s users account for 80
percent of the volume of the product sold (in other words, the heavy
3) After “heavy users” are identified and understood, the brand’s
relationship to them is considered.
g. Uses of psychographic segmentation include:
1) To define the target market
2) To create a new view of the market
3) To position the product
4) To better communicate product attributes
5) To develop overall strategy
6) To market social and political issues
h. Many research companies and advertising agencies have
developed segmentation typologies that divide people into segments.
Because these are largely proprietary however, they are hard to get.
i. One well-known and widely used segmentation system is VALS
(Values and Lifestyles), developed at what is now SRI International in
California. Nine lifestyle clusters have been identified. VALS2 extends
this concept and uses eight groups that are determined by psychological
characteristics and “resources” (such as income, education, energy
levels, and eagerness to buy). The groups include:
1) Actualizers—successful with many resources open to change.
2) Fulfilled—satisfied, reflective, comfortable, practical.
3) Achievers—career-oriented, avoid risk, self-discovery.
4) Experiencers—impulsive, young, offbeat, love risk.
5) Believers—strong principles, favor proven brands.
6) Strivers—like achievers, but with fewer resources, need
7) Makers—action-oriented, self-sufficiency, do-it-yourselfers.
8) Strugglers—bottom-of-the-ladder, immediate gratification.
j. Global MOSAIC is another segmentation system that has developed
fourteen common lifestyles that apply across cultures.
k. A Paris-based organization called RISC has developed a
segmentation system that seeks to anticipate future change in social
climate around the world and to identify signs of change in one country
before it eventually spreads to others.
1) RISC measures the social climate in more than forty countries.
2) The RISC system asks a battery of questions that measure
3) The system places people in a virtual space described by three
exploration/stability, social/individual, and global/local.
4) Individuals fit into one of ten general category segments in this
Regional Consumption Differences
j. Consumption patterns change as one moves from one region of
their country to another. Differences occur in:
1) Food preferences. A food culture is a pattern of food and
beverage consumption that reflects the values of a social group.
2) The arts and entertainment.
a) Geodemography refers to analytical techniques that
combine data on consumer expenditures and other socioeconomic
factors with geographic information about the areas in which people live
in order to identify consumers who share common consumption
patterns. “Birds of a feather flock together.”
b) Cluster analysis allows marketers to identify consumers
who share important characteristics.
c) Single-source data is where a person’s actual purchasing
history is combined with geo-demographic data.
d) One method that is used is PRIZM (Potential Rating Index
by Zip Market).