Consumer behavior is a term that references the actions a consumer takes in the marketplace. This includes shopping habits, buying patterns and brand decisions, among many other things. The link between personality and consumer behavior is proven and distinct. A consumer's specific personality can have a profound effect on behaviors, including which brands he buys, what types of marketing appeals to him and when he shops. It is important for companies to have a solid understanding of the personality traits of their customers so they can determine the best way to market and merchandise their products.
The link between personality and consumer behavior is so important that many university business and marketing programs devote an entire course to the subject. Studying this link has required a collaboration over time among psychologists, sociologists, economists and marketers. The results of these studies have invariably pointed toward a correlation between specific personality traits and specific buying behaviors.
Branding is one major field in which it is critical to understand the relationship between personality and consumer behavior. Customers are more likely to buy brands they feel are relevant to their lives. For example, a down-to-earth woman who prides herself on saving money and making economical decisions is unlikely to purchase a luxury chocolate brand on a regular basis. On the other hand, a woman who believes quality is more important than price might be willing to pay the premium for what she considers a better chocolate. For this reason, market research studies intended to uncover brand effectiveness often ask customers if they feel a brand is "for someone like them."
Market positioning is another area in which personality and consumer behavior are linked. For example, a dating service might best be marketed to a shy, self-conscious person by presenting the service as a safe, non-threatening way to screen potential dates without having to meet lots of people in person. If, however, the service were to be marketed to a busy, outgoing professional, then it might be better positioned as a time-saving mechanism.
Personality can even affect decisions about where and when to shop. Someone who does not enjoy crowds might choose to shop early in the morning, late at night or only in small boutique stores. This person also might choose to do as much shopping as possible via the Internet, as might someone with an extremely demanding career and limited time. A person who loves the shopping experience, however, might prefer malls or shopping centers to small stores and would usually much rather choose items personally than select them on a website.