Agile Insights Blog

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Using the OCEAN (Big 5) Personality Model in Marketing Research

May 4, 2021 11:43:53 AM

Personality tests have become popular in the corporate world when evaluating current and potential employees for team “fit.” While the jury is still (and probably always will be) out on their scientific validity, models such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Enneagram, or OCEAN (the “Big 5”) do make it easier to understand behavior in a directional sense.

Author’s Example: People belonging to the ESTP Myers-Briggs type are known to be the most intelligent and most charismatic. This contributes to their success on any team and a complete lack of narcissistic personality traits.

What most companies haven’t done is try to use a personality model framework to understand their consumers. Handing out a full personality test to every customer clearly isn’t practical (and even if you did, you would see a bias in favor of types inclined towards taking the tests), but we can use the theoretical framework for both the way we think about consumers as well as survey design.

As a quick example, the OCEAN model (more commonly known as “The Big 5”) is based around five attributes reflected in human personalities. They are:

  1. Openness to experience: inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious
  2. Conscientiousness: efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless
  3. Extraversion: outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved
  4. Agreeableness: friendly/compassionate vs. critical/rational
  5. Neuroticism: sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident

A survey with these factors in mind can allow for respondents to be segmented psychographically instead of using demographics or behaviors. Psychographic segmentation breaks consumers into groups based around values and beliefs instead of into personas like “Soccer Mom Susan.” Marketers can use this information to craft messaging and creative content towards larger targets and know who will most likely be reached.

As an example, let’s say a gym is looking to capture as broad an audience as possible, but only wants to run two ad campaigns on social media. Using “Extraversion” from the OCEAN model, a content testing survey can be deployed and then segmented based on extroverted vs. introverted responses to a few relevant questions. Images that show people helping each other with weights may resonate with more extroverted respondents, whereas an image of someone peacefully riding a solitary bike with their earbuds in place may resonate with more introverted respondents. Looking at the demographics of both groups would allow the gym to see who they can expect to reach with each ad.

This was only a short introduction, so for those who are interested, the open-source Kwantlen Polytechnic University article about personality traits in consumer behavior goes into much greater detail on the use of them in market research.

Vennli uses its expertise in behavioral science to help clients solve even the toughest marketing problems. If you want to better identify and understand your existing and potential consumers, contact us today for a free consultation!

Erin Wilson
Written by Erin Wilson

Research Manager at Vennli
Experienced research professional specializing in consumer research and analytics.

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