After taking the VALS online questionnaire, I discovered that my primary VALS type is “Innovator,” and that my secondary type is “Experiencer.” As this paper will focus only on my primary type, I will limit my description to that of the Innovator. As the www.strategicbusinessinsights.com website explained, an Innovator has several qualities that would concern marketers, in both positive and negative ways: Innovators make the highest number of financial transactions, they are confident, skeptical about advertising, are future-oriented, and are self-directed consumers (Anonymous, 2016).
This paper will first explore how this description pertains to the way I view myself, then it will examine how marketers might use this information to design advertising campaigns directed to me and others like me, and it will also relate this information to Ecclesiastes 2:26. In the realm of marketing, it is essential to understand the personality dimensions of one’s target market, as psychological proclivities are a powerful force in buying decisions.
What the Innovator Classification Means to me
When I received my questionnaire results, I was not surprised by the classifications that it assigned to me, as well as the attendant descriptions of the “Innovator” type that were provided by the website. I have always considered myself to be an independent-minded person, and I rarely allow fads or current trends influence my purchasing decisions. I would have to strongly agree with the contention that I have a tendency to be skeptical about advertising. Ever since I was young, I have always had the impression that advertisers make exaggerated claims about the goods and services that they are selling in an effort to exert undue influence on a potential customer’s purchasing decision. Now that I myself am considering a future career in advertising, this is one pitfall that I plan to be cognizant of, especially as I am a Christian and wish to engage in ethically responsible advertising practices.
As an Innovator who is naturally skeptical of advertising practices, I believe this personality trait will help me as I advance in my career. On one hand, I could use this quality for highly unethical purposes, as my insight could help me design advertising campaigns that are expressly targeted toward fleecing a skeptical consumer. However, I am not interested in doing such things, and so I believe I could use my natural skepticism to head off colleagues who may not be so morally upstanding and suggest improved methods of advertising to them. When it comes to another aspect of my VALS personality type, which is the contention that I am prone to making “the highest number of financial transactions” (Anonymous, 2016), I would have to respectfully disagree with that statement. If anything, I am quite cautious with my finances, and I try to limit my purchases as much as possible.
What the Innovator Classification Means to Marketers
With regards to marketers who intend to market to the “Innovator” segment of the market, they should keep in mind that individuals with my VALS type are, above all, skeptical of advertising claims and place a high value on credible information. Thus, marketers should adhere to the old adage, “under promise and over deliver.” Additionally, marketers who wish to sell products to innovators should be prepared to create advertising campaigns that are rooted in empirically verifiable information. They should not try to make appeals to emotion, to sex appeal, nor a desire to “fit in.” Innovators, as the VALS website indicates, are self-directed consumers and marketers should endeavor to sell to this segment based on the benefits that their product or service will bring to the consumer. Simply making a product appear to be “hip,” “sexy,” or “fashionable,” will not cut it with the Innovator group of consumers.
Additionally, Innovators are future oriented and are confident in themselves. Thus, marketers should try to sell products based on their lasting power and future value. For instance, if an advertiser is trying to market a line of automobiles to the Innovator segment, they should focus on the resale value of the car, the likelihood of repair expenses in the future, and on gas mileage (Kotler & Keller, 2011). An Innovator is unlikely to purchase a car because they want to come across as “high status,” or because the car seems like it would be “fun.” Thus, an automotive advertiser would do well to communicate a message of durability, reliability, and high resale value if they are trying to sell cars to a market segment who has been identified as comprised of “Innovator” personality types. While all of the above recommendations are good advertising practices, no matter what the personality type of the target market, these aspects of a campaign are especially important when marketing to Innovators.
In the realm of marketing, it is vitally important to have a good idea of the personality characteristics of the market segment that the advertising campaign is targeted to (Kotler & Keller, 2011). Marketing, in essence, is communication, and in all forms of communication, it is always essential to keep the tastes and proclivities of one’s audience in mind. When one is a Christian marketer, it is also crucial to keep Ecclesiastes 2:26 in mind: “To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God” (NIV). When undertaking a marketing campaign directed to any personality type, the most important consideration of all is to maintain a high standard of ethics, especially with regards to the claims that one is making to the general public.
- Anonymous. (2016). “The US VALS Survey.” Strategic Business Insights. Retrieved from http://www.strategicbusinessinsights.com/vals/presurvey.shtml.
- Kotler, P.T., & Keller, K.L. (2011). Marketing Management, 14th ed. Boston: Pearson Publishing.