Understanding the Big 5 Personality Traits

People are complex. You don’t need a PhD in psychology to figure that out. However, understanding the specific ways people navigate their lives requires a deeper dive. One model that has proven particularly useful in market research and discovery is the the Big 5 Model of 52 personality traits. Often referred to as OCEAN, this model uncovers a great deal of valuable consumer insights.

What Are The Big Five Personality Traits?

We can understand just what personality traits a person exemplifies by the language they use in online conversation. This is based on the lexical hypothesis. In short, it suggests that people’s personalities and individuality becomes part of their everyday language. The Big Five personality traits model is comprised of Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. The way they talk about themselves, either in-person or online, sheds key insights into how they navigate the world.

1. Openness to Experience vs. Practicality

People who display this personality trait tend to be experimental, curious and adventurous. They are often artistically or intellectually driven. These folks can be impulsive and wanting to live in the moment. They’re “down for whatever.” They respond well to products that market themselves as “new” or “innovative.”

The opposite of this cohort is the practical set. As you might expect, these people are much more disciplined and prefer order over chaos. They put work or other routines ahead of self fulfillment and are much more down-to-earth. When it comes to marketing, familiar and reliable products are often their go-tos.

2. Conscientiousness vs. Spontaneity

This group likes to have a plan. They are highly aware of their situation and don’t like surprises. Self-discipline and planning are a big part of who they are as well. It’s not a surprise that this group tends to seek out products that have been proven to work or carry an established reputation.

Then there’s the spontaneous set. They’re real go-with-the-flow types and tend to be more reactionary. Having said that, they will make quick decisions about a product and decide if it’s right for them on the spot.

3. Extraversion vs. Introversion

The typical extrovert is talkative and outgoing, preferring to socialize rather than spend time alone. They are in constant need of stimulation and seek out ways to find it. Messaging that leans on a product’s popularity and hipness are a good fit for them.

Introverts, on the other hand, can entertain themselves. Their decision-making is more individualistic and intentionally counter to what’s popular. Exclusivity and feeling like they’ve “just discovered” a new product are good tactics.

4. Agreeableness vs. Independent

The agreeable set don’t like to make waves. They are compassionate and compliant, trusting and sensitive. People with this trait are friendly and helpful and all around well-natured. Popular products or ones that align with their social leanings are your best bet. However, this may not lead to any real brand loyalty.

Independents are more likely to go with their instincts and don’t like to have their opinions challenged. They may be say things like, “I can’t be marketed to.”

5. Neuroticism vs. Composed

AKA “emotional,” the neurotic types are extremely self-critical and quick to judge their own actions. This trait can manifest as anxious or restless. They’re pessimistic and give into their emotions easily. Products should solve a problem or make their lives easier. They may opt for popular products to take the guess work out of their purchasing decisions.

Conversely, the composed group are cool customers and much more level-headed. There may not be an urgency to their purchasing, but that doesn’t mean they’re not looking for products that fit their lifestyle. Be patient when marketing to this group.

It’s worth noting that not everyone fits neatly into one of these traits or its opposite. These chameleons are often adaptable. Think of them as psychological swing voters. However, creating a full map of a consumer’s personality can tell you which direction to head in.

Trait Theory and Market Research

At 113 Industries we lean on a consumer behavior modeling approach backed by a powerful insights tool built on IBM Watson while leaning on the Big 5 personality traits methodology. At the core of this new approach to market research is the ability to develop extremely specific consumer cohorts. By sorting through millions of online conversations, we can gain key insights into everything from consumer needs and insights to how they prefer products to be offered to them.

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