What Is the Relationship between Personality and Consumer Behavior?

Maggie Worth

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.

A focus on self-image may drive the consumer to buy a car loaded with the latest features.
A focus on self-image may drive the consumer to buy a car loaded with the latest features.

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.

Demographics and personal preference play a role in some consumer behavior.
Demographics and personal preference play a role in some consumer behavior.

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.

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Discussion Comments


Customer behavior must be very difficult to figure out. For example, I'm someone who will not spend much on certain products, but don't mind spending a lot for others.

For example, I'm not going to spend a lot to buy milk, or paper towels. I always go for the cheapest brand because I don't think that the quality differs much. When it comes to buying computers though, I want the best and I don't mind spending a lot for it.

I have no idea how branding can be done for a consumer like me.


I think that consumer behavior varies a lot based on the specific product. So manufacturers need to do their share of research to find out the behavior trends of consumers they are targeting. Unfortunately, one marketing strategy won't work for every consumer group.


Personality definitely plays a huge role in consumer behavior. I actually think that every society has a certain kind of personality. That's why consumers in different countries can act in very different ways.

Everyone knows for example, that Americans are shoppers, we love to shop. We like to stock up on goods and we buy things on sale even if we don't need them The Japanese on the other hand, love to save, so they do not buy and spend as much as we do. They won't buy things that they don't need.

Individual personalities play a role too, but every culture and society seems to be dominated by a certain personality type that affects how they behave as consumers.

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