Ho creato questo blog per parlare di sociologia e ricerche di mercato, "fare ricerca sul campo" e condividere opinioni e professionalità.
I have done this blog in order to speak about sociology and market research, to do survey and share opinions and skills about this topic.


The Life style and advertising 1. WHAT IS THE LIFE STYLE? In sociology, a lifestyle is the way a person (or a group) lives. This includes patterns of social relations, consumption, entertainment, and dress. A lifestyle typically also reflects an individual's attitudes, values or worldview. Having a specific "lifestyle" can be described as patterns of behavior based on alternatives given and how easy it is to make this choice over others given. The term "lifestyle" first appeared in 1939 Alvin Toffler predicted an explosion of lifestyles ("subcults") as diversity increases in post-industrial societies. Pre-modern societies did not require a term approaching sub-culture or "lifestyle", as different ways of living were expressed as entirely different cultures, religions, ethnicities or by an minority. In business, "lifestyles" provide a means of targeting consumers as advertisers and marketers endeavor to match consumer aspirations with products. An organization that decides to operate in some market normally can not equally serve all the customers in that market. These customers may be too numerous, too widely scattered and especially too heterogeneous in their needs and wants. Recognizing that those heterogeneous markets are actually made up of a number of smaller homogeneous submarkets, Smith (1956) introduced the concept of market segmentation – the process of dividing the total market into several relatively homogeneous groups with similar product or service interests, with similar needs and desires. From then on, market segmentation became the core concept of fine-tuned target marketing and communication campaigns.[i] Of course, many criteria can be used to assign potential customers to homogeneous groups. Commonly, these variables are grouped into three general categories[ii]: • Product-specific, behavioural attribute segmentations classify consumers focusing upon their purchase behaviour within the product category or the benefits the consumer expects to derive from a product category. • General, physical attribute segmentations of consumers, which use criteria as geographic, demographic or socioeconomic variables to create homogeneous target markets. • General, psychological attribute segmentations, which utilize profiles of consumers developed either from lifestyle analyses and sort into groups on the basis of things they like to do, how they like to spend their leisure time, and how they choose to spend their disposable income. This kind of segmentation is often called ‘psychographics’. In contrast to personality which describes consumers from an internal perspective, lifestyle is concerned with consumers’ overt actions and behavior. The Lifestyle is a mode of living as identified by a person’s activities, interests, and opinions; self-concept often translates into a person’s lifestyle, or the way that he or she lives his or her life.[iii] For example, a person may be very materialistic; preferring to wear flashy clothes and drive expensive cars, or prefer instead a simpler life with fewer visible status symbols. Attempts have been made to classify consumers into various segments based on their lifestyles. The Values and Lifestyle (VALS) Project, developed by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI)[iv], attempts to classify people based on a combination of values and resources. Thus, for example, both "Achievers" and "Strivers" want public recognition, but only the Achievers have the resources to bring this about. 2. THE LIFE-STYLE ‘S IMPORTANCE IN THE MARKETING William Lazer introduced the concept of life-style patterns to marketing in 1963[v]. Many researchers subsequently applied the concept to diverse applications and supplemented demographic information with descriptions of consumers’ activities, interests, and opinions. For example, Alpert and Gatty (1969) showed how is possible to define a product’s position using psychographic variables. Plummer (1971) applied psychographic segmentation to commercial bank credit card usage and Reynolds and Darden (1972) to outshoppers. Wells in 1985 asserted that behavioural and attitudinal aspects of lifestyles may be expected to change over time, making it essential for marketers to continually monitor the congruence of psychographics and demographics as well as media usage and shopping behaviours. In a second time other researchers like Zeithaml (1985) described the changes in demographic characteristics and the increased fragmentation of supermarket shoppers. Consumer purchases are influenced from how they decide to organize their lifestyle and this depends from what they find interesting, and how they view themselves and the world around them. Understanding these factors we can forecast the product choices, brand choices, purchase timing and purchase amounts. Then in the last years marketers have worked in order to understand how consumers in their target markets see their lives since this information is the key to developing products, suggesting promotional strategies and even determining how best to distribute products. Marketers use Life-style to: · Identify consumer segments · Design ad messages that appeal to certain lifestyles and then to place these ads in media that will be seen by a particular lifestyle segment · Uncover unfulfilled needs of lifestyle segments and develop new products In general, lifestyle research is based on extensive surveys using appropriate quantitative methods. The aim is to combine the motivational research, that gives us like result a lot of data on a few individuals, and the quantitative survey research , that yields a small amount of information on a lot of people. Using psychographics surveys we can understand not only ”who buys what” but why people buy what they do. 3. HOW IDENTIFY THE LIFE –STYLE We can distinguish different waves to identify the consumer’s life-style: 3.1 The AIO approach The psychographic or lifestyle research, developed in the 1960’s and ’70’s, usually takes as its point of departure extensive and ad hoc AIO (activities, interests and opinions) surveys, which then lead to often very colourful and useful lifestyle typologies using the technique of cluster analysis[vi]. AIO refers to measures of activities, interests and opinions. Activities are manifest actions (work, hobbies, social events, vacation, entertainment, clubs, community, shopping, sports, etc.). Interest in some objects, events or topics (family, home, job, community, recreation, fashion, food, media, achievements, etc.) is the degree of excitement that accompanies both special and continuing attention to it. Finally, opinions are descriptive beliefs (of oneself, social issues, politics, business, economics, education, products, future, culture, etc.). Three typical statements could be: • I often listen to classic music (activity); • I am very interested in the latest fashion trends (interest); • A woman’s place is at home (opinion). Often very large batteries of AIO items were used. For example, Wells and Tigert (1971) formulated 300 AIO items, while Cosmas (1982) used a questionnaire containing 250 AIO items.[vii] 3.2 The value systems approach In a second wave of research, the value concept came to replace this very extensive and burdensome AIO approach. Values are commonly defined as desirable, trans-situational goals, varying in importance, that serve as guiding principles in people’s lives. The most important instrument for measuring values is the Rokeach Value Survey (Rokeach, 1973). His inventory comprises 18 values: (• A comfortable life; • An exciting life; • A sense of accomplishment; • A world at peace; • A world of beauty; • Equality; • Family security; • Freedom; • Happiness; • Inner harmony; • Mature love; • National security; • Pleasure; • Salvation; • Self-respect; • Social recognition; • True friendship; • Wisdom.). A shorter and more easily implemented instrument is the List of Values (LOV), suggested by Kahle (1983)[viii], including only nine values. Now, values are of particular interest because values may affect a wide spectrum of behaviour across many situations. Indeed, individuals’ value priorities are part of their basic worldviews; therefore, values are also important lifestyle determinants. Moreover, values are broader in scope than attitudes or the types of variables contained in AIO measures, they transcend specific situations. Finally, value inventories in general often only contain a handful of values, instead of 200 or 300 AIO items. This led researchers of the second wave of lifestyle research to use value batteries as input for their questionnaires, which proved to be much more elegant and fundamental than the AIO approach. 3.3.The life vision approach There is a third approach in order to identify the life-style: using the way people ‘look at life’. This is the ‘life visions’. Life visions then can be defined as the perspective people take on some major issues in life. This can be measured using the major points of attention in contemporary western culture, including such things as health, beauty, male/female identities, work/money/time considerations, the use of leisure, partner relations, family relations, friends, culture, politics, economics and science. For each item, is possible to formulate two polarized visions, for instance, for ‘male/female identities’: • Men and women are fundamentally equal. The roles society prescribes for them should be abandoned. • Men and women are fundamentally different. Therefore, society must permit men to act as a true male and women to act as a true female. Respondents will be asked to indicate on a seven-point scale how strongly they agree either with the vision on the left or with the vision on the right of the seven-point scale (cf. a semantic differential). 4. THE STRENGTH OF THE LIFE-STYLE THEORY Psychographics has proven to be a very useful tool for organisations in their marketing research. It identifies target markets that could not be isolated using only demographic variables. Psychographics are designed to measure the consumer's predisposition to buy a product, the influences that stimulate buying behaviour, and the relationship between the consumer's perception of the product benefits and his/her lifestyle, interests and opinions. Often researchers have turned to psychographics because of the limitation encountered in demographics. An advantage of psychographics is that it describes segments in terms directly relevant to advertisement campaign and market planning decisions of organisations. It has also appealed marketers for its power to combine the richness of "motivational research" with the statistical sophistication of computer analyses and, provide corporate strategists with rich descriptive details for developing marketing strategy; it has the ability to give marketers a big image of the consumer's lifestyle. There is also the appealing advantage that psychographic segments which are developed for markets in one geographic location are generalizable to market in other geographic locations. Psychographics are essential for discovering both the explicit and the hidden psycho-social motives that so often spell the difference between acceptance or rejection of the brand. Consumer behaviour research and communications research can provide useful information on children’s and parents’ attitudes, perceptions, and behaviour and provide information on media channels that can best reach targeted groups. 5. THE WEAKNESS OF THE LIFE-STYLE THEORY Psychographic research has been criticized for a number of problems associated with its measurement and the validity of items arbitrarily selected for surveys. The main points of criticism are[ix]: • The methods used are purely inductive and not guided by theory. Often, the items used in lifestyle questionnaires are based on common sense reasoning and implicit experience in carrying out market research and there are no standardized methods to evaluate the stability of results of psychographic techniques. Therefore it will throw doubts in whether the segment and market targeted are reliable or not. The main problem is that psychographics attempt to measure intangible and diffuse concepts, values and attitudes are not easy to measure as every single person has a different personality and consequently have different opinions and interests. Sometimes, the questions are asked in such a way that only touches the surface of psychographic questions, and the underlying issues are overlooked or ignored. • The explanatory value of lifestyle types or dimensions concerning consumer behaviour is low and not well documented. When it has been attempted to relate purchase data and lifestyle data in such a way that the amount of variance in the former explained by the latter can be ascertained, the amount of variance explained has often been very modest, sometimes even below the variance explained by demographic variables alone (Wells and Tigert, 1971). As Wells (1975) put it in a review article: ‘Stated as correlation coefficients these relationships appear shockingly small – frequently in the .1 or .2 range, seldom higher than .3 or .4.’ [x] . The option for different dimensions (values, life visions, aesthetic style and media preferences) that are more reflective of lasting personal characteristics and behaviours, compared to the more variable and superficial AIO items, certainly improves the reliability of the research instrument. Anyway some authors claim that the use of psychographics or lifestyle research remains even today one of the least understood but potentially most powerful approaches in market and communication research (see, for example, Gunter and Furnham, 1992: 30; Heath, 1995; Wolburg and Pokrywczynski, 2001). 6. IMPLICATION ON THE ADVERTISING In the broader realm of marketing and advertising, psychographic segmentation focuses on identifying the likes, opinions and attitudes of a particular group of people and creating messages that cause people to identify with those ideas. This is distinct from demographic segmentation strategies like sociocultural and socioeconomic targeting, which look at customers based on age, gender, etc. Despite these challenges, properly applied psychographics can play a powerful part in developing effective digital signage content and other advertising techniques If we want to advertise a packaged rice side dish on digital signs in a national advertising campaign, where the customers span multiple disparate demographic groups instead of creating separate versions of a commercial spot focusing on demographic differences, (e.g. showing different races, different ethnic foods on the table, different social classes, etc.), we might create a single version of the ad using images catering to a particular psychographic profile. For example, across multiple demographic groups there is a feeling that homemade meals are more valuable or somehow better than a pre-packaged or takeout meal. Home-cooked meals require effort on the part of the cook, and therefore represent not only sustenance, but also the value of the cook's time and their care for the meal being delivered. In this example, our target customer become someone trying to recreate these positive feelings in their home, regardless of that shopper's age, gender, family size, or how much time they have to prepare dinner. To reach them, we might utilize a group of images (featuring different demographic groups) showing the product being cooked, featured as part of a larger home-made meal, and bringing a family, a group of friends, or a couple on a dine-in date closer together. By associating the product with concepts, attitudes and opinions that are popular across many demographic groups, a single spot can do the work of many. This technique also reduces the amount of content that needs to be developed and managed, which in turn helps to rein in costs and reduce complexity (an important but often overlooked detail of large retail networks). We can have problems when the brand try to use psychographic segmentation to create artificial archetypes of the "average" consumer, family, etc. The thought here is that if we fill your product packages with images of totally unremarkable, average people engaged in the desired activities (and hence sharing the same interests, etc.), the product will be able to resonate with the widest possible buying audience. In practice, this method doesn't really work very well, especially not in such an ethnically and racially diverse country. Instead of images of "average" people, we instead get creepy images of bland, blank-staring, and wholly unremarkable people that seem not real. Some of these images are even computer-generated, using an algorithm designed to blend the traits of various ethnic groups into a single portrait so the kid on the front of a box of Life cereal supposed to be a psychographic archetype. Fortunately, the tendency to use psychographics as a generic, thoughtless substitute for demographic segmentation seems to be going away, and more savvy marketers are successfully employing psychographic techniques to communicate values, ideals and opinions to the right group of shoppers. And while demographic segmentation will likely continue to be the primary means for creating targeted messages on large population, the proper use of psychographics offers the opportunity to do more with less. By building the imagery of different ideals and opinions into content that can appeal to multiple demographic groups, an in advertising campaign can be expected to deliver greater relevance to consumers, lower production cost, and higher incremental sales lift for marketers. 7. CONCLUSION Lifestyle research emerged from the recognition that important demographic distinctions simply do not exist in many product categories and even where they do, one cannot intelligently decide how to attract any particular market segment unless one knows why the distinctions exist. In order to attract and motivate a particular group of consumers through communication campaigns, one must gain insight into their psychological profile, i.e. their lifestyle. It is possible to develop robust and balanced general lifestyle typologies (using values, life visions or aesthetic style preferences alone, or in combination) that can be used by communication and marketing managers for strategic segmentation decisions across very different markets. These lifestyle typologies often outperform classic demographic and socioeconomic segmentation variables in terms of product benefit or attribute evaluation. A global typology, combining sections on values, life visions, aesthetic style preferences and media preferences, not only provides the richest data (for communication strategists, creative and media planners), but also yields the best discriminative performance compared to other lifestyle segmentation methods. Creating a lifestyle brand is not the only (or the best) path to sustainable success but one useful strategy for attacking a market. Bibliography guidelines [i] Armstrong, G. Kotler,P. Saunders. J, Wong .V (2002) Principles of Marketing, (Prentice Hall, Financial Times) [ii] Patrick Vyncke,(2002) From Attitudes, Interests and Opinions, to Values, Aesthetic Styles, Life Visions and Media Preferences, European Journal of Communication , (SAGE Publications ) [iii] H.Maslow (1970) Motivation and Personality, (Harper&Row, New York) [iv] Armstrong, G. Kotler,P. Saunders. J, Wong .V (2002) Principles of Marketing, (Prentice Hall, Financial Times) [v] Faye W. Gilbert (1995) Psychographic Constructs and Demographic Segments, University of Mississippi, Vol.12 [vi] Punj, G. and D.W. Stewart (1983) ‘Cluster Analysis in Marketing Research: Review and Suggestions for Application’, Journal of Marketing Research 20 [vii] Wells, W.D. and D. Tigert (1971) ‘Activities, Interests and Opinions’, Journal of Advertising Research 11: 27–35. [viii] Rokeach, M. (1973) The Nature of Human Values. New York: Free Press. [ix] Patrick Vyncke,(2002) From Attitudes, Interests and Opinions, to Values, Aesthetic Styles, Life Visions and Media Preferences, European Journal of Communication , (SAGE Publications ) [x] Wells, W.D. (1975) ‘Psychographics: A Critical Review’, Journal of Marketing Research 12: 196–213.