When students finish this chapter, they should understand why:
1. A consumer’s personality influences the way he responds to marketing stimuli, but efforts to use this information in marketing contexts have been met with mixed results.
2. Psychographics go beyond simple demographics in helping marketers understand and reach different consumer segments.
3. Consumer activities can be harmful to individuals and to society.
A consumer’s personality influences the way he responds to marketing stimuli, but efforts to use this information in marketing contexts meet with mixed results.
The concept of personality refers to a person’s unique psychological makeup and how it consistently influences the way a person responds to her environment. Marketing strategies based on personality differences have met with mixed success, partly because of the way researchers have measured and applied these differences in personality traits to consumption contexts. Some analysts try to understand underlying differences in small samples of consumers by employing techniques based on Freudian psychology and variations of this perspective, whereas others have tried to assess these dimensions more objectively in large samples using sophisticated, quantitative techniques. Psychographics go beyond simple demographics to help marketers understand and reach different consumer segments.
Psychographic techniques classify consumers in terms of psychological, subjective variables in addition to observable characteristics (demographics). Marketers have developed systems to identify consumer “types” and to differentiate them in terms of their brand or product preferences, media usage, leisure time activities, and attitudes toward broad issues such as politics and religion.
Consumer activities can be harmful to individuals and to society.
Although textbooks often paint a picture of the consumer as a rational, informed decision maker, in reality many consumer activities are harmful to individuals or to society. The “dark side” of consumer behavior includes terrorism, addiction, the use of people as products (consumed consumers), and theft or vandalism (anti-consumption).
A. Personality refers to a person’s unique psychological makeup and how it consistently influences the way a person responds to his or her environment.
1. There has been debate about whether the concept of personality is valid since it changes with situations and circumstances.
2. Underlying characteristics are part of what defines behavior, but situational factors often play a large role as well.
B. Consumer Behavior on the Couch: Freudian Theory
1. Sigmund Freud developed the idea that much of one’s adult personality stems from a fundamental conflict between a person’s desire to gratify her physical needs and the necessity to function as a responsible member of society.
2. Freudian Systems separate the mind into three parts:
a. The id (which is entirely oriented toward immediate gratification).
a.i. It operates on the pleasure principle (behavior guided by the primary desire to maximize pleasure and avoid pain).
a.ii. The id is selfish.
a.iii. The id is illogical (it acts without regard to consequences).
b. The superego (which is the counterweight to the id).
b.i. It is a person’s conscience.
b.ii. It internalizes society’s rules and it works to prevent the id from seeking selfish gratification.
c. The ego (which is the system that mediates between the id and the superego).
c.i. 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.
c.ii. Much of this battle occurs in the unconscious mind.
3. Consumer researchers adapted Freud’s ideas because they highlight the importance of unconscious motives that