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Consumer Behavior

In: Business and Management

Submitted By cwelk49
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Business Paper #2 In a capitalist environment, one's purchases can often be described as “voting,” and can attest to that person's character and personality. The Values, Attitudes and Lifestyles (VALS-2) are a psychographic research method which was developed around this concept and attempts to divide consumers into eight archetypal categories which describe their patterns of consumption. These categories include innovators, thinkers, believers, achievers, strivers, experiencers, makers and survivors. The innovator is the success story. He has the highest income of all and makes purchases based on an image of sophistication. Just as many success stories, the innovator's value of personal development often drives them to various intellectual activities, creating a very well-informed and politically active social persona with a high amount of social and financial resources. This produces an optimistic and self-confident archetype, which is involved in various organizations and is also very outgoing and open to change. These are the leaders in our business and government. As a consumer, the innovator prefers products which reflect good taste and character and their open-mindedness makes them very receptive to new ideas, technologies and products. However, cutting-edge products often come at a risk. Experience in the market, as well as a drive towards intellectual pursuit makes innovators very skeptical of advertising. The thinker is one who values education and travel. This individual is typically politically moderate and relatively tolerant of others. His leisure time is often centered in his home and he is quite health conscious. The thinker is mature; he is satisfied with his life and carries some degree of intrinsic motivation. He values order, knowledge and responsibility and is known for being open-minded. Unlike the innovator, the thinker has little interest in image or prestige, but still prefers high-quality home products, centered on quality and durability. The achiever pivots his life on his career and his family. This individual prefers to have formal social relations and avoids excess change or stimulation. Work is a priority for the achiever and is sometimes put above leisure time and this causes the achiever to be goal-oriented and conventional. The achiever enjoys the feeling of relative control over his life and circumstances. Achievers are attracted to specially branded products and watch an average amount of television. These folks tend to read business news and various self-help publications. Experiencers represent about 12% of the United States population. Much like the innovator, this archetype enjoys the new, offbeat and risky. Exercise, sports and socializing and one's social image are of prime importance. However, the experiencer is not a conformist and definitely does not participate in politics. This individual admires wealth and the upper class, but also values individuality while following fashion trends. Much of this archetype's disposable income is spent on socializing. These folks are a prime target for advertising, due to their enthusiastic and impulsive nature and their tendency to spend on impulse. Believers are the conformist archetype. They respect the rules and trust authority figures and represent a politically conservative demographic, despite being somewhat well informed. These folks tend to socialize within established groups (i.e. church groups, family) and enjoy being settled with a comfortable and predictable lifestyle. Morals are central to the home of the believer. These folks tend to buy American products, and look for bargains (somewhat like a survivor). Believers are slow to change their habits and often spend a considerable amount of time watching television. Strivers possess narrow interests and are easily bored. This category tends to be politically apathetic and unconcerned about health and nutrition. A striver is characterized by their approval seeking behavior, as they often look to their peers for direction. This renders the sriver dissatisfied, unsure and feeling alienated. These folks tend to prefer carrying credit balances and spend much of their money on clothing and personal care products (due to their concern with their social image). The striver also tends to prefer television to reading. Statistically speaking, there are likely just as many makers in the world as strivers. Makers earn their name for their preference of hands-on activities. These outdoors men spend much of their leisure time with their close friends and family. Their distrust for politicians, foreigners and big business restricts them from joining many organizations (except perhaps unions). However, the maker is often practical, self-sufficient and constructive. This often drives them to shop for comfort, durability and value, as they are unimpressed by luxuries. Unlike the previously mentioned, these folks often enjoy listening to radio and read automotive, home mechanics and outdoors magazines. A survivor possesses the lowest income of the eight categories. They carry a limited number of interests and often rely on organized religion. On average, the survivor makes up the oldest VALS category. These individuals are often held back by health problems and are primarily concerned with safety and security. Financial and physical limitations render the survivor feeling powerless, and form a narrowly focused, yet heavily burdened individual. These folks are often conservative and show a strong aversion to taking risks. Due to their aversion to risks and conservative mindset, the survivor practices brand-loyalty. A product which has worked in the past is more likely to fulfill future requirements. Additionally, financial demands create a culture of coupon-cutting and bargain hunting. Unlike the innovators, whose thirst for knowledge and consumption of a wide variety of publications has lead them to skepticism, the survivor trusts advertising and often relies on it for guidance. These folks will also spend much of their time watching television and reading tabloids, activities which the innovator may deem intellectually devoid. In order to properly evaluate these categories and their effectiveness, a study must be conducted which compares established personalities to the selected archetypes in order to determine whether or not they are valid. Such a study will assist marketers in reassuring the validity of the VALS system and can affect their decision to use said methodology in future marketing research. For these examples, I will use Tony Stark (as the character Iron Man, property of Marvel Worldwide Inc.) as the innovator and my friend Thomas Jackson (alternative name used for his privacy) as the survivor. Anthony Edward "Tony" Stark is a character from the fictional universe created by Marvel Worldwide, Inc., also known as Iron Man, for his self-designed armored suit, which is often used to fight criminals. Tony Stark was born to Howard Anthony Stark and Maria Collins Carbonell Stark, both of whom were co-owners of Stark Industries. Stark's success story begins at an early age, as he enrolled as an undergraduate at age 15 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Iron man [anthony stark]). By age 19, Stark had acquired two master's degrees and inherited Stark Enterprises at age 21, following the death of his parents. Tony Stark's talents made him the definition of an innovator. His inheritance and continued success as an engineer and business owner have made Tony Stark a billionaire. As a genius, Tony is constantly pushed to technological innovation, driving him to constantly update his knowledge in his field. His socially promiscuous lifestyle have also furthered his knowledge of social and popular culture. Much of Tony's massive income is redistributed through his own personal technology (some of which is presumably financed by Stark Enterprises), including his very own Stark Tower. The state of Tony's health is a matter of debate. A piece of shrapnel, lodged very close to his heart required the installation of special equipment which produces a magnetic field, preventing the shrapnel from killing Stark. This was also incorporated into a high-tech battle suit, making him known to many as the Iron Man. Due to Stark's high income, many of his clothing and casual needs reflect the pinnacle of development and innovation. He often wears designer suits, eats the finest and drinks the finest (with the exception of New York City shawarma) and enjoys luxurious vacations and thrilling activities. On the contrary, my personal friend, Thomas Jackson, is a survivor. Tom likely adopted these personality traits from his grandfather, who played a pivotal role in his childhood and served as his father figure. Much like his father, Tom works a low-income job at a gas station, despite his Bachelor's degree in journalism. His friends are limited but close; he is not closed to the idea of new friends, however, prefers to adhere to those which are already established. Tom is a creature of habit. Each day begins with the same plastic bottle of Code Red Mountain Dew and a simple breakfast. Tom's current car is American, just as his previous and the cars of his family members. His money is often saved and spent on gas, food and bills. Tom enjoys sticking to what he knows. When shopping, Tom's family saves and actively uses coupons. They enjoy watching television (particularly football, of which he is an expert). Due to his inability to cook, Tom, his grandfather and his girlfriend all utilize precooked, microwavable meals. His grandfather often spends time at the local McDonald's, and has made a tradition of eating a meal with his grandson there. To further illustrate Tom's brand-loyalty, he has never deviated from the barber who gave Tom his very first haircut. When the barber's shop moved, so did Tom. In his free time, Tom actively follows football. His favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. Due to his lack of rent (his grandfather owns the house), Tom spends his money on season passes to the stadium and loyally attends every game (sometimes following the team to other cities). Tom's health is superb, as he represents a younger sample of the survivor category and unlike many in this category, neither Tom nor his family relies on organized religion and represents a non-religious demographic. In the provided examples, the VALS-2 model proves somewhat accurate, with some deviations. The subjects discussed behave in similar ways to their associated categories and despite its presence outside of the scope of this study, each remaining VALS category brings to mind a string of characters whom I met throughout my life experiences. My specific examples behave as the model suggested (from a marketing point-of-view). This suggests that these archetypes can prove quite useful for choosing a target audience for a new product. Due to each category on the VALS having specifically stated habits and preferences, it can prove to be quite a useful method for predicting consumer behavior. However, it is very possible that an individual could fall into multiple categories or display characteristics of multiple archetypes. When conducting a survey of the target audience of a product, one must find a list of characteristics most likely possessed by the target audience. This requires a solid definition of the audience being marketed. Their spending habits, social preferences, average financial background, fears, dislikes. All of which can provide a picture of what advertisements can and cannot trigger within them in order to effectively sell their product. For example, a cutting edge tablet would most likely market most effectively to the innovator, a consumer who has the invested interest and finances to purchase brand-new technology. In order for a useful understanding to be attained, generalizations about the customer base must be made.

WORKS CITED
Iron man (anthony stark). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://marvel.com/universe/Iron_Man_(Anthony_Stark)

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