Consumer Lifestyle

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Consumer Lifestyle

When people are passionate about a brand it becomes a part of their lifestyle.

It involves segmenting the market on the basis of lifestyle dimensions, positioning the product in a way that appeals to the activities, interests and opinions of the targeted market and undertaking specific promotional campaigns which exploit lifestyle appeals to enhance the market value of the offered product.

Characteristics of Lifestyle

Given below are the characteristics of lifestyle:

Lifestyle is a Group Phenomenon

A person’s lifestyle bears the influence of his/her participation in social groups and of his/ her relationships with others. Two clerks in the same office may exhibit different lifestyles.

Lifestyle Pervades Various Aspects of Life

An individual’s lifestyle may result in certain consistency of behavior. Knowing a person’s conduct in one aspect of life may enable us to predict how he/she may behave in other areas.

Lifestyle Implies a Central Life Interest

For every individual, there are many central life interests like family, work, leisure, sexual exploits, religion, politics, etc. that may fashion his interaction with the environment.

Lifestyles Vary according to Sociologically Relevant Variables

The rate of social change in a society has a great deal to do with variations in lifestyles. So do age, sex, religion, ethnicity, and social class. The increase in the number of double income families and of working women has resulted in completely different lifestyles in the 1980s in India.


Influence of Lifestyle

Cultural and societal variables establish the outer boundaries of lifestyle specific to our culture. The interaction of group and individual expectations and values creates a systematic pattern of behavior. This is the lifestyle pattern that determines purchase decisions.

When goods and services available in the market are in tune with lifestyle patterns and values, consumer market reactions are favorable. And purchases that reinforce these patterns further illuminate these lifestyles. Lazer’s lifestyle hierarchy brings out these interactions.


Application of Aio Studies

Studying the lifestyle closely through the AIO inventory of heavy/ medium/light users of a product has been found to be immensely useful for marketers. In the US studies have been done regarding the heavy use of beer, eye makeup, and bank credit cards.

When it was revealed that 23% of the people who drink beer consume 80% of the beverage sold, the heavy beer user became the advertising target of the new campaign. Willian Wells and Douglas Tigert used an AIO inventory to probe the heavy user of eye cosmetics.

Demographic data revealed that such women were young, well-educated, and metropolitan. But she also tended to be a heavy smoker and more inclined than the average woman to make long distance telephone calls.

From the responses to statements, she emerged as one who fantasizes about trips around the world, and as one who wanted a very stylish home. In a study Plummer applied to bank credit card users, males who used bank charge cards heavily were described as urbane and active with high income level and occupational and educational achievements.

The heavy card user places high value on personal appearance consistent with his career and lifestyle. He was found to buy at least three new suits a year, to belong to several organizations and revealed contemporary attitudes and opinions.

Thus, a study of personality, lifestyle, and social class gives a more comprehensive consumer profile and not a mere physical description of demographics. Using the AIO inventory, the Chicago-based advertising agency of Needham, Harper, and Steers has identified five female lifestyle groups and five male lifestyle groups.

We have Indian parallels of these types and you may try to recall the advertisements given alongside in brackets to identify the lifestyle portrayed through these characters and decide whether they conform.


Lifestyle Profile in Indian Customers

In India, one of the agencies is trying to create a psychographic profile of the Indian child based on a sample of over 4463 in 8 metros and mini-metros.

Advertisements featuring children in advertisements for varied products and marketers feel that this makes the whole family involved and is consistent with our life experience. As an outcome of these studies, the emerging profiles of Indian children are given below:

  • 6-7 years: A fun seeker heavily influenced by the family and by teachers.

  • 8-10 years: A role player, influenced primarily by the school and by friends.

  • 11-15 years: An emulator, influenced by the peer group. At this stage, gradual non acceptance of the family begins.

  • 16-18 years: Young adults, almost entirely conforming to the group.

Vals System of Classification

Stanford Research Institute (SRI) developed a popular approach to psychographics segmentation called VALS (Values and Lifestyles). This approach segmented consumers according to their values and lifestyles in the USA.

Researchers faced some problems with this method and SRI developed the VALS2 program in 1978 and significantly revised it in 1989. VALS2 puts less emphasis on activities and interests and more on psychological drivers of consumer behavior.

To measure this, respondents are given statements with which they are required to state a degree of agreement or disagreement.

Some examples of statements are:

  • I am often interested in theories.
  • I often crave excitement.
  • I liked most of the subjects I studied in school.
  • I like working with carpentry and mechanical tools.
  • I must admit that I like to show off.
  • I have little desire to see the world.
  • I like being in charge of a group.
  • I hate getting grease and oil on my hands.

According to the present classification scheme, VALS has two dimensions. The first dimension, primary motivations, determines the type of goals that individuals will pursue and refers to a pattern of attitudes and activities that help individuals reinforce, sustain or modify their social self-image.

This is a fundamental human need. The second dimension, resources, reflects the ability of individuals to pursue their dominant motivations that includes the full range of physical, psychological, demographic, and material means such as self-confidence, interpersonal skills, inventiveness, intelligence, eagerness to buy, money, position, education, etc.

The questions above are designed to classify respondents based on their primary motivations. Stanford Research Institute (SRI) has identified three basic motivations:

  • Ideals (principle): individuals are guided in their choices by their beliefs and principles and not by feelings, desires, and events.

  • Achievement: individuals are heavily influenced by the actions, approval, and opinions of others.

  • Self-expression (action): individuals desire physical and social activity, variety, and risk-taking.

Based on the concepts of basic motivations and resources, the typology breaks consumers into eight groups.

VALS suggests that a consumer purchases certain products and services because the individual is a specific type of person. The purchase is believed to reflect a consumer’s lifestyle, which is a function of motivations and resources.

People with high resources and high innovation are at the top and the ones with low resources and low innovation are at the bottom of this typology. Each of the eight groups exhibits a distinctive behavior and decision-making approach.

VALS represents an interconnected network of segments, which means that adjoining segments have many similar characteristics and can be combined to suit particular marketing objectives.

Innovators (Formerly Actualisers)

This segment is small in size compared to the other seven but may be the most attractive market because of their high incomes and because they are the leading edge of change. They are among the established or getting established leaders in business or government, yet they seek challenges.

Image is important to them as an expression of their taste, independence, and character. These people are successful, sophisticated, active, and with high self-esteem. They are interested in growth and development; they explore and express themselves in many different ways.

They have social and intellectual interests and are open to social change. They are guided sometimes by ideals and at other times by desire and are fond of reading. They prefer premium products to show their success to others.

Thinkers (Formerly Fulfilled)

Thinkers are motivated by ideals and exhibit behavior according to their views of how the world is or should be. They are mature in their outlook, satisfied, comfortable, well-educated, and reflective people who value order, knowledge, and responsibility.

They like their home and family, are satisfied with their careers, and enjoy their leisure activities at home. They are open-minded about new ideas and accept social change. As consumers, they are conservative and practical. They purchase products for their durability, functionality, and value.

Believers

Like thinkers, believers are also motivated by ideals; their basic approach to decision-making is rational. Believers are not well-educated and the moral code of conduct is deeply rooted in their psyche and is inflexible.

They are conservative, and conventional and have deep beliefs based on tradition, family, religion, and community. Their routines are established and largely influenced by home, family, religion, and social organization.

Their behavior as consumers is predictable and conservative. Their income is modest, but enough to meet their needs.

Achievers

They are motivated by the desire for achievement and make choices based on a desire to enhance their position or to facilitate their move to another group’s membership for which they aspire. They have goal-oriented lifestyles and a deep commitment to careers and families.

They are more resourceful and active. Achievers are inclined to seek recognition and self-identity through achievement at work and in their personal lives.

They have high economic and social status and patronize prestige products and services and time-saving devices that exhibit success to their peers. They value consensus, predictability, and stability over risk and intimacy.

Strivers

They are trendy and fun-loving and are motivated by achievement. They are dependent on others to indicate what they should be and do. They believe money represents success and never seem to have enough of it.

Their self-definition is based on the approval and the opinion of others around them. They are impulsive by nature, get easily bored, are unsure of themselves, and are low on economic, social, and psychological resources.

Strivers try to mask the lack of enough rewards from their work and family, and to conceal this, they attempt to appear stylish. They try to emulate those with higher incomes and possessions, generally beyond their reach.

Strivers are active consumers, shopping to them is both a social activity and an opportunity to show their peers their ability to buy. They read less but prefer to watch television.

Survivors (Formerly Strugglers)

They have narrow interests; their aspirations and actions are constrained by the low levels of resources. Strivers are comfortable with the familiar and are basically concerned with safety and security. They are ill-educated, with strong social bonds, low-skilled, and poor.

They feel powerless and unable to have any impact or influence on events and feel the world is changing too quickly.

As consumers, they show the strongest brand loyalties, especially if they can purchase them at a discount. They are cautious consumers and represent only a modest market. They watch a lot of television and read women’s magazines and tabloids.

Experiencers

They are young, full of vitality, enthusiastic, impulsive, and rebellious, and motivated by self-expression. They are avid consumers and spend a high proportion of their income on fashion, entertainment, and socializing.

Their desire is to feel good and have “cool” stuff. They are college-educated and much of their income is disposable. They have an abstract disregard for conformity and authority. Experiencers seek excitement and variety in their lives and like to take risks.

Their patterns of values and behavior are in the process of being formulated. They are fond of outdoor recreation, sports, and social activities. They spend heavily on clothing, music and fast food.

Makers

Their motivation is self-expression. They like to be self-sufficient, and have sufficient income and skills to accomplish their desired goals. Makers are energetic, like to experience the world, build a house, have families, raise children, and have sufficient skills backed with income to accomplish their projects.

They are practical people and have constructive skills and energy to carry out their projects successfully. Their outlook is conservative, they are suspicious of new ideas, and respect government and authority, but resent any intrusion on their rights. They are not impressed with others’ wealth and possessions.

For several reasons, psychographic segmentation variables are used on a limited scale. To accurately measure psychographic variables is rather difficult compared to other types of segmentation bases.

The relationships between psychographic variables and consumer needs are often difficult to document. Also, certain psychographic segments may not be reachable. For example, it may be difficult to reach introverted people at a reasonable cost.


Application of Lifestyle Marketing

The most striking uses of lifestyle concepts and allied research have been made in the positioning of new products, repositioning existing products, developing new product concepts, and creating new product opportunities in specific fields.

In congruence with the product concept chosen, lifestyle research is utilized for selecting media, formulating media and promotion strategies, and improving retail performance.

The lifestyle concept is also utilized as a framework for presenting research recommendations since it is capable of offering the marketers, portraits of the target group expressed in an uncomplicated manner.


Optimal Stimulation Level

Some activities have more potential to provide individuals with some sort of Physiological Arousal. There are others who prefer a calm, simple, and uncluttered life, while some others prefer a novel, complex and exciting existence.

Research in this area indicates that high optimum stimulation levels are associated with more willingness to take risks; be innovative, try new products, and actively seek purchase-related information.

P. S. Raju has reported that OSL seems to indicate an individual’s desired level of Lifestyle stimulation. Things, which are physically stimulating, emotionally energizing, exciting, or novel, have the potential to induce arousal.

Research shows that individuals prefer things that are moderately arousing rather than too arousing or not arousing at all.

Consumers with high and low levels of need for stimulation differ in their purchase behavior. If an individual’s Lifestyle is such that it offers the desired level of stimulation, she/he is quite satisfied. If the level of stimulation falls short of the desired level, such a person is bored.

Consumers with high stimulation needs tend to be the first to buy new products, actively seek information about them, and engage in variety-seeking buying behavior. They tend to be curious about the ads they see, but are also likely to get bored by them. Interestingly, they are also likely to buy products with greater risk.


Need for Cognition

Some researchers (John T. Cacioppo and Richard E. Pettey) have focused on the ‘need for cognition’ Personality traits.

Such individuals tend to seek information that requires thinking. Opposite to this would be those who shy away from such information and focus on peripheral information (ELM model).

For instance, a consumer high in need for cognition (NC) and looking at an ad for an Apple computer is more likely to study and concentrate on the information contained in the ad.

On the other hand, a consumer low in need for cognition would be more inclined to look at the beautiful picture of iMac, ignoring the detailed information about the computer model.

Research by Curt Haugtvedt et al, has shown that consumers high in need for cognition were more influenced by the quality of arguments in the ad than those who were low in need for cognition.

Further, those low in need for cognition were influenced more by the spokesperson’s attractiveness than those who were high in need for cognition. These results show an interesting aspect of Personality, which may have important implications for advertising.


Dogmatism

Consumers are also likely to vary in terms of how open-minded or closed-minded they are. Dogmatism is a Personality trait that indicates the degree of an individual’s rigidity towards anything that is contrary to her/his own established beliefs. Apparently, the person is resistant to change and new ideas.

One would expect highly dogmatic consumers to be relatively resistant to new products, promotions or advertising. However, they may tend to be yielding to celebrities and experts who present authoritative appeals.

On the other hand, consumers low in Dogmatism are more likely to accept new and innovative products to established alternatives and be more receptive to ad messages that focus on product attributes and benefits.


Self-monitoring Behaviour

Individual consumers differ in the degree to which they look to others for indications of how to behave. Those persons who are high-self monitors tend to look to others for direction and accordingly guide their own behavior. They are more sensitive and responsive to Image-oriented ads and willing to try such products. They are less likely to be consumer Innovators.


Susceptibility to Influence

Consumers differ in terms of their proneness to persuasion attempts by others, especially when these attempts happen to be interpersonal or face-to-face. William O. Bearden, Richard G. Netemeyer and Jesse H. Teel have reported that some consumers possess a greater desire to enhance their Image than others and show a willingness to be influenced or guided by them.

Consumers with lower social and Information Processing confidence show more proneness to be influenced by ads compared to those who have higher self-confidence.

ARTICLE SOURCES
  • C.L. Tyagi and Arun Kumar, (2004), Consumer Behaviour, Atlantic Publishers & Dist

  • Jim Blythe, (2013), Consumer Behaviour, SAGE

  • Frank Kardes, Maria Cronley and Thomas Cline, (2014), Consumer Behaviour, Cengage Learning

  • Leon G. Schiffman, Leslie Lazar Kanuk, (2007), Consumer Behavior, Pearson Education

  • Dr. A Sarangapani, (2009), A Textbook on Rural Consumer Behaviour in India – A Study of FMCGs, Laxmi Publications Ltd.

  • http://k3hamilton.com/cb/cb6.html

  • http://www.warc.com/fulltext/esomar/80217.htm

  • http://www.euromonitor.com/consumer-lifestyles-in-india/report
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