personality trait essay

An empirical study was conducted to test the relevance of personality trait theory in the Indian context. The objective was to define the scope of personality trait theory for research and marketing strategy by overcoming the limitations of past studies. The findings indicated that differences in brand use could be explained by personality theory under certain conditions. Specifically/ the findings showed that brands which occupied different product positions attracted different personality types.

These positions might e created by a combination of physical properties and socio-psychological attributes of the product. Ruby Roy Dollar is Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. Currently she is a visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Management. Mohammedan. The consumer often has to choose a specific product or brand from a set of alternatives availTABLE in the market. In the process of evaluation and selection, the consumer may adopt a set of criteria such as economy, quality, durability, and taste, and the product that most closely matches the set of criteria is purchased.

When products become standardized, it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate them on any real, tangible attributes. In such cases, consumers may select alternatives randomly, revealing no consistency in purchase patterns. To create specific preferences for products and brands, marketers incorporate non-physical and intangible product attributes and communicate these to the market. The consumer, therefore, learns to evaluate a product not only in terms of its physical characteristics but also with respect to its non-physical attributes.

The market in India promotes this non-functional differentiation of many products. In certain limited product categories such as toilet soaps, textiles, cigarettes, packaged tea, and home remedies, quality has been standardized and a proliferation of brands has taken place. Since these alternative brands are very similar in terms of their physical/technical performance, marketers attempt to create a differential advantage through non-physical attributes. Psychological Segmentation When psychological characteristics of the product, of the settings in which it is used.

Visalia, volt. 3, NO. 2, April 1978 111 and of its users are employed to differentiate it from its competitive alternatives, the marketer is said to segment the market psychologically. Segmentation as a marketing tool is used when the market can be differentiated in terms of its origin, location, character, responsiveness to marketing instruments, etc. (Hanoverian, 1964). Segmentation on the basis of geographical location of customers leads to selective distribution and physical availability of goods.

Similarly, economic segmentation based on purchasing power of customers creates price differentiations. When markets are quite homogeneous with respect to physical and/or demographic characteristics, segmentation relies upon psychological characteristics of the market. Psychological segmentation attempts to incorporate attributes or benefits into the product such that it is perceived as a psychological object symbolizing personal attributes and goals. This is accomplished by creating a product image or personality through emphasis on traits that are used to characterize human personalities.

Products achieve associations with traits such as sociTABLE, modern, dynamic, conservative, strong, and steady. Consumers use these associations to build product preferences which in turn create systematic patterns in their purchasing behavior. Levy (1959) observed: The things people buy are seen to social meanings in addition to their goods are recognized as psychological of personal attributes and goals, as patterns and strivings. Have personal or functions. Modern things, as symbolic symbolic Of social most consumer goods marketing.

Concentrated In cities and other large urban areas, these consumers are highly similar in terms of their income, education, and other socio-economic variTABLEs. Psychological segmentation, therefore, offers ample opportunities for differentiating these markets. Personality Theory and Buyer Behavior Sociologists and psychologists have attempted to answer in their own ways why a product or brand is purchased. Sociologists have used social class, reference groups, peer influences, family life cycle, and other concepts to explain consumer behavior.

Psychologists have attempted to go further and look for explanation at the individual consumer level. While they recognized that consumers could be categorized into various groups and classes, this did not lead to a sufficient explanation of individual differences in behavior. Individuals belonging to the same group manifest distinct ways of behaving ND responding so that intra-group differences remain unexplained by sociological concepts. Psychological theories, including personality theory, have been used to explain these inter-individual differences.

Generally, personality refers to personal dispositions which underlie behavior (Sanford, 1968; Lazarus. 1971). These dispositions of a person are assumed to constitute an organized totality, a more or less enduring structure that interacts with the environment. There have been applications of personality trait theory in marketing. Attempts to explain automobile brand choice have been made by several researchers. Evans (1959) found that personality variTABLEs correctly predicted 63 per cent of the brand purchased, while the use of other data permitted 70 per cent correct predictions.

Grub and Hip (1968) had better success in relating personality variTABLEs to 1 Psychological segmentation is common in India for many consumer products even though only a fraction of the market is tapped. In this respect, India is similar to other developing countries which are characterized by low per capita but highly skewed distributions of income. About 10-20 per cent Of the population accounts for the major portion of purchasing power; these effluent segments also form the target of 772 Visalia automobile choice by using the “self-concept” construct.

Steiner (1961) improved upon Vans’s findings by relating personality differences to brand loyalty. Working with other products, Broody and Cunningham (1968) found a strong relationship between personality variTABLEs and brand loyal behavior. Spoken (1960) found that personality variTABLEs were better TABLE to discriminate between use and non-use of products (filter vs.. Non-filter cigarettes) than between use of various brands. The evidence from these various studies indicates that: 1 .

The use of standardized personality assuring instruments yield relatively low correlations with measures of buyer behavior. 2. These relationships improve when specific instruments are designed for the consumption context or when a priori hypotheses are developed about specific personality traits and buyer behavior. 3. The level of relationship is influenced by the definition and specification of behavior. Different results have been noticed when behave our has meant brand choice, product type choice, or brand loyalty.

It would thus appear that the lack of strong relationships between personality variTABLEs and buyer behavior is caused by methodological differences. To overcome some of these limitations, a study was designed to investigate the relationship between personality traits and buyer behavior. The objectives, methodology, and results of the study are presented below. Study Coffee, as a beverage, has been availTABLE in India for a long time but its consumption has very specific regional and socio-economic characteristics. It is primarily consumed in southern India where it is widely grown.

For similar climatic and location reasons, tea is the more popular beverage in the rest of the country. In recent years, a great deal of competitive activity in the marketing of cadged and branded coffee has been noticed. Several brands of instant coffee have been introduced. Greater success has been achieved for instant coffee in non-southern regions because of its convenience. Like other packaged goods, it is purchased by the more affluent segments of the urban population. With the increase in brand choice, the question of brand preference and brand selection needed to be answered.

In attempting to obtain larger sales volumes and market shares, marketers of the newer brands of instant coffee had to understand why consumers chose specific brands. The hypothesis that brands chosen were better in terms of taste and there physical characteristics was not borne out by taste tests. Company researches had shown that in disguised taste tests, brands could not be discriminated but brand preference exerted itself when brand identities were known. It appeared, therefore, that brand image or brand personality was perhaps a significant determinant of brand choice behavior.

A research study was initiated in 1972 to investigate the effect of consumer personality on the consumption of instant coffee. The assumption was that personality characteristics would tend to influence brand perception, brand preference, and, therefore, brand usage. The expectation was that users of a particular brand of coffee were likely to be similar in terms of their personality profile and different from users of other brands. Object Set It may be important to describe specific characteristics of brands of instant coffee availTABLE in the market.

Four brands of instant coffee are made and marketed by two multinational corporations, each marketing two brands. These brands had been so introduced that, in terms of physical product and market positioning volt. 3, No. 2, April 1978 113 strategies, brands A and B were similar to each other but different from brands C and D. Brands A and B represented one product formulation, C and D another. Thus, the consumer had a choice of four brands representing two product formulations marketed by two companies. Furthermore, brands C and D constituted a differentiations form, and had been introduced relatively recently.

They, therefore, represented more unconventional, novel brands of instant coffee. The characteristics are summarized in Figure 1 . Figure 1 The Object Set Broadband Company BACKBEND Shelf Life Very Long Long Short Short fat ion Pure Pure Blend Blend Product Cluster 1 (Conventional Brands) Product Cluster 2 (Non- Conventional Brands) a translated version in Bengali was administered to the Bengali-speaking population of Calcutta. The six traits were neurotic tendency, self-sufficiency, introversion-extroversion, dominance-submission, confidence, and sociability.

The test was administered by a trained psychologist in a personal interview conducted at the respondent’s home. The dependent variTABLE was defined as regular use of a specific brand of instant coffee. We relied on respondents definition of regular theme use and no independent checks were . Made. Therefore, a consumer was a regular user of one of the brands A, B, C, or D. No measure of intensity of use or loyalty of brand selection was taken although there was an implicit assumption that regularity incorporated an element of brand loyalty and high usage.

Hypotheses While the study was initiated to test generally whether users of various brands of instant coffee differed with respect to their personality traits, more specific research hypotheses were formulated. These hypotheses were tested in the study and each of them is discussed in terms of its rationale. H 1: The ability of personality variTABLEs to explain consumption behavior will increase as the level of behavior becomes more specific. Method Ninety-five consul mere were chosen from the household population in Calcutta. One of the criteria for sample selection was that household expenses must be at least RSI. 00 a month. Within this category, quotas were fixed for the selection of consumers who were regular users of one of the four brands of instant coffee. In addition, awareness of each of the availTABLE brands was assessed before a consumer was included in the study. That is, a consumer was included in the study only if he or she used a brand of instant coffee and was aware of other brands to ensure that differences in brand awareness did not lead to differences in brand choice. The final sample included 25 consumers for each of the three brands and 20 consumers for the fourth brand.

The Brunette Personality Inventory was used to measure six personality traits. A standardized test consisting of 30 items, it had been tested and validated amongst a sample of Indians, and 114 This hypothesis is developed from earlier findings that the relevance Of personality traits is influenced by the specification of the dependent variTABLE. Several studies had reported apparently diverse findings relating personality traits to behavior such as product use (filter vs.. Infester cigarettes), brand hospice (Ford vs.. Chevrolet), brand loyalty (loyal Ford vs.. Loyal Chevrolet users), etc. In the context fifths study, it is hypothesized that personality differences will be greatest for brand choice and least for company choice behavior. This is based on the assumption that brand choice is more specific than company choice behavior. This implies that the number of significantly different personality traits will be greater for brand than for company choice. Only brands A and C were selected for brand comparisons because both represented the more dominant brands in each cluster and were marketed by different companies.

They, therefore, differed from each other with respect to company, product position, and brand. H 2: The ability of personality variTABLEs to explain consumption behavior will be dependent on the Structure Of the brand choice set. Although many brands exist in the alternative choice set, marketing strategies often create clusters of similar brands. Members of a particular cluster (or product-position) are usually very similar to each other even in terms of psychological attributes. In these cases, the relevance of consumers’ personality is expected to be low in explaining the choice of brands within a luster.

Consumer personality becomes relevant for explaining buyer behavior only when significant differences exist in the perception or positioning of brands. In our context, this hypothesis implies that differences in personality profiles will be greatest for those brands which are, or perceived to be, most different from each other and least for those brands which are, or perceived to be, most similar to each other. H 3: Three personality traits?introversion-extroversion, dominance-submission, and confidence?will be significantly different for the users of conventional and unconventional brands. Erectly from past findings that a priori specification of personality traits is more useful than just looking for personality differences. It is predicted that people who are more dominant introverted, and/or confident will be consumers of the newer, less conventional brands of instant coffee. This hypothesis is based on the assumption that the two sets of instant coffee are likely to be perceived differently on dimensions such as social acceptability and popularity because of their relatively recent introduction and different product formulations.

Therefore, personality traits which reflect a need for, or ability to conform to, or reject social acceptance and approval will be significantly different. The implications for statistical comparisons to test the hypotheses are given in Figure 2. Results The personality profiles are given in TABLE 1 for the four groups of instant coffee users. The interpretation of the meaning and scores of each trait is given in TABLE 2. A glance at the profiles reveals several differences in personality traits.

The statistical significance of these differences are discussed in the context of the research hypotheses. Support for the first hypothesis appears to be quite strong (see TABLE 3). While only one personality trait?neurotic tendency?is significantly different, two traits are significant when comparison is done at the brand choice level. Users of brands A and C differ with respect to introversion-extroversion and confidence personality traits. If the two-tailed test is performed at 0. 10 instead of 0. 5 level of significance, then two more traits?neurotic tendency and dominance-submission?become statistically different for the users of the two brands. These personality traits, except for neurotic tendency, were not found to be statistically different when the comparison was focused on many choice. This supports the hypothesis 115 In the context of this study, it is predicted that personality traits which imply greater acceptance of, or preference for, social approval, control, etc. I. E, introversion-extroversion, dominance-submission, and confidence) will be significantly different for the users of the two product clusters. This hypothesis emanates Volt. 3, No. 2, April 1978 Figure 2 Hypothesized Relationships Comparison c to Expected Relationship o 01 Company vs.. Brand Company: (Brands A D vs.. B, C) Brand: (Brand A vs.. C) Company Brand TOO – Specificity ‘2 H 2: Within vs. Between Cluster Differences Within: (Brands A vs.. B, C vs.. D) Between: (Brands A, B vs..

C, D) hoc В«0? j_ Within H 3: Conventional vs.. Non-Conventional Brand Users Conventional: (Brands A, B) vs.. Non-conventional: (Brands C, D) Between Introversion : C, D>A, B Dominance : C, D>A, B Confidence : C, D>A, B that the number of significantly different personality traits will increase as the level of behavioral choice becomes more specific. In other words, the relevance of personality traits as an explanatory variTABLE increases as the behavior to be explained becomes more specific.

The belief that personality raids influence consumption behavior is based on the assumption that people engage in behavior which coincides with or is expressive of these traits. The positioning of brands with respect to each other is an important determinant of their con- Greece with personality profiles. A test of hypothesis 2, therefore, included considerations of brand similarity and differences. As we can see from TABLE 4, support for this hypothesis is also very strong. When brands are positioned very similarly, differences in personality profiles of users are not statistically significant.

Thus, we find no significant difference when We compare the seers of brand A with brand B and the users of brand C with brand D. However, three of the personality traits?neurotic tendency, nonintervention 775 soon-extroversion, and confidence?are significantly different when we compare users of brands A and B with users of brands C and D. That is, the data do not us port statistically significant differences within two clusters of similar brands; but when the comparison is made between clusters, three Of the six personality traits are significantly different.

Hypothesis 3 can also be tested on the same data. Cluster 1 of brands A and B represents the rotational, more accepted brand category, whereas cluster 2 (of brands C and D) consists of new and unconventional brands. Since we have made a directional hypothesis, the one-tailed test was performed and the three hypothesized personality traits were found to be significantly different. Users of the two clusters differed on introversion-extroversion, dominance- submission, and confidence traits.

The specific hypothesis that the more unconventional brands (C and D) would attract the more introverted, dominant, and confident was supported for two traits (dominance and confidence) but not for the third (introversion). It appeared that people who were attracted to the newer brands were less introverted but more socially dominating and confident. Perhaps, imagination and liking to live with oneself (introversion) was less important as a trait in accepting new products than tendencies to dominate in face-to-face situations and self-confidence.

While no hypothesis has been made about sociability and neurotic tendency, differences in both of these traits are found to be statistically significant. Since sociability appears to include opposite scores of the two traits for which individual predictions have been made, it is not considered because of ambiguity in interpreting group scores. The difference in personality traits can be best understood in terms of the composite trait confidence which incorporates social dependence, emotional stability, introversion, and dominance.

Since low scores for this trait indicate greater social independence, memo- action stability, dominance, and extroversion, the users of the more unconventional brands can be characterized by these traits. A priori, these traits appear to be more supportive of, and relevant to, unconventional behavior. Discussion The relevance of personality variTABLEs to explain consumer behavior appears to be supported by the data reported in this study. The relevance increased when behavior itself was specific and when predictions could be made about the significance and direction of individual personality traits.

This provides certain guidelines for using personality trait theory to explain consumer behavior. Its domain is quite limited and specific. As it emerges from this study, personality trait theory is more useful when) a priori hypotheses are advanced with respect to expected relationships of specific personality traits and buyer behavior; and 2) personality differences are Estes for cluster users and not individual brand users if brands cluster owing to marketing strategies. The clustering of brands was facilitated in this study because of the limited number of brands.

The criteria used were also independent of the consumers’ perceptions. This was felt to create a more valid explanation when different clusters were seen to attract different personality types. However, a disadvantage of the study was in the use of a standardized personality inventory, indicating the need for developing specific instruments suited to consumption contexts. Conclusion The practical implications of this study are several. It provides support for psychological segmentation as a marketing tool when more traditional bases for market division are exhausted.

Although there are no data on the volt. 3, NO. 2, April 1978 117 distribution of individual personality traits or composite personality profiles in a population, marketers can build product “personalities” to attract particular types of customers. The success of this effort will depend on the number of alternatives in the competitive environment and the distinct differences between them. Forming a brand personality through various elements of the marketing mix must be supported by comparTABLE marketing fort to achieve a desired market share.

This is particularly critical when there are several similar brands within a cluster. Based on similarity considerations, each brand is likely to obtain a proportionate share of the market. However, the actual share obtained will be related to the marketing effort visa-visa com appetite efforts. If a particular brand has dominated the cluster owing to historical reasons, then a recent entry must successfully combat the cumulative advantage of the dominant brand. While psychological segmentation is a valuTABLE tool, it needs to be used with caution.

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