Personality, Self-Concept and Lifestyle are critical factors that drive consumer behavior. These closely related concepts vary across consumers. Understanding how they influence consumer behavior helps us as marketers to understand our target audience and develop the correct mix of marketing communications to deliver at the right place and time.
A human personality is as unique and multifaceted as a snowflake. However, unlike a snowflake that is made of water, your personality is the sum of your thoughts, feelings, tendencies, intentions and behaviors. It is derived from a mix of inborn and environmental factors.
Although no two personalities are exactly alike, many people share common personality traits. The five-factor model – well accepted in psychology today – proposes that human personalities consist of varying degrees of the following five traits:
- Openness to experience (creativity)
- Neuroticism (stability)
Typically, the core characteristics of your personality remain the same for the duration of your life, although significant life events may shake things up a bit. Marketers can use these characteristics to segment consumers with similar thoughts, emotions and behaviors in order to effectively personalize their marketing message.
Your personality, however, is just one facet of your consumer behavior.
Who am I? The answer to that question (hopefully) lies in your self-concept. Self-Concept is the totality of the thoughts, feelings and perceptions that you have about yourself or, in other words, how you see yourself. Remarkably, your self-concept is not considered realistic due to an unconscious component that exists only in your mind (it’s all in your head!!).
Additionally, different types of your self can exist under different circumstances. For example, you may act differently at work then you do with your friends. These different versions of you may consume products differently as well.
As marketers, we embrace the self-congruence theory which states that consumers align themselves with brands and products that match attributes they see in themselves. Taking this a step further, many consumers use products to define their social identity. Using this knowledge, marketers can segment consumers into groups that possess high self-concept congruence with product-user image to deliver the right marketing mix to the correct target. Additionally, most self-congruent consumers have high brand loyalty which can translate to lifetime customers.
Another aspect of social identity is lifestyle. Your lifestyle is simply your way of living, including how you spend your time and money. Some factors that affect your lifestyle are as follows:
- Social Class
Lifestyles are extremely valuable to marketers as they can predict consumer purchase patterns. Marketers use psychographics, or quantitative data to investigate and develop consumer lifestyle profiles. One data collection method is AIO, which generates psychographic profiles from survey questions. This information gives marketers insight into consumer’s activities, interests and opinions.
Marketers may elect to define their own lifestyle segments or they can opt to use a lifestyle segmenting tool. Two popular lifestyle segmenting tools include VALS and PRIZM. VALS divides consumers based on resources and consumer behavior motivations. In contrast, PRIZM combines consumer expenditure data with socioeconomic variables with geographic information to identify similarities in household consumption patterns in various regions.
Having taken both these assessments personally, I can honestly say that although they do not hit the mark exactly (you will not fit me into a box!!) the broad generalizations are fairly accurate. Therefore, both VALS and PRIZM have proven to be useful tools to use for lifestyle segmenting.
Lifestyle segmenting allows marketers to narrow in on their target audience, figure out what motivates them, where to find them and determines their demographics and interests. Marketers use this information to construct and deliver the right marketing mix to the right target at the right place and time.
If you have made it this far into the blog, first of all, congratulations on your impressive attention span!!
More importantly, however, it is plain to see that personality, self-concept and lifestyle all play significant roles in determining how consumers behave in the marketplace. For marketers, understanding these three concepts and how they affect consumer behavior enables the most successful creation and delivery of the right marketing mix.