Personality and Consumer Research
by Donna L. Roberts, PhD
While advertisers base their whole operation on the premise that the right advertising message will help promote sales, Ogilvy (2007/1983), citing specific campaigns and associated sales figures, also argued the converse – namely that advertising that sends the wrong message can actually decrease sales. In other words, he argued against the premise that any and all adverting would increase sales and instead proposed that the message must be carefully and specifically crafted. Specifically, he proposed that advertisers, in order to create and effective ad, must research the consumers and “find out how they think . . . what language they use . . . what attributes are important to them and what promise would be most likely to make them buy your brand” (p. 12)
The study of personality in relation to consumer behavior seeks to determine and describe the relative influence of individual characteristics on consumers’ response to products, packaging, advertising and the purchasing decision process. Despite the widespread use of demographics in consumer research (Harpaz, 2005), some researchers have emphasized the efficacy of personality constructs for predicting and explaining differences in response to advertising over the use of demographic data or purchasing behavior (Endler & Rosenstein, 1997). Demographics lack the precision and specificity of psychometric oriented tests with regard to the cognitive processes that are incorporated into consumer decision-making (Reid & Reid, 2003). Conversely, the effect of personal preferences on the decision process represents a fundamental aspect of many personality constructs, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) with its Jungian theoretical premises (Consulting Psychological Press, 2006; Overholt, 2004).
Consulting Psychologists Press (CPP). (2006). Comparing the MBTI Form G and Form M. Gainsville, FL: Center for Applications of Psychological Type, Inc.
Endler, N. S., & Rosenstein, A. J. (1997). Evolution of the personality construct in marketing and its applicability to contemporary personality research. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 6, 65.
Harpaz, J. (2005). Securing document management systems: A call for standards, leadership. The CPA Journal, 75(7), 11.
Ogilvy, D. (2007/1983). Ogilvy on advertising. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
Overholt, A. (2004). Personality tests: Back with a vengeance. Fast Company, 88, 115.
Reid, P., & Reid, T. (2003). Personal style and behaviours [sic]. Industrial and Commercial Training, 35(3), 94 – 98.