A new profiling tool promises to change the marketing landscape by focusing on consumers’ values.
Conventional marketing wisdom has long held the principal predictor of consumer behavior is age, which is precisely why so much time and energy has been expended trying to effectively reach millennials (defined here are people born between 1980 and 1995). However, while Allison (The Stackable Boomer, 2015) was researching baby boomers, he discovered that many of their life decisions align with millennials’, undermining the regnant view that the latter are “an entirely new species of human.” He argues that, in general, relying upon age as a profiling tool is misguided and that it should be discarded in favor of a reliance on values—what people “want, need, and expect from life.” He transformed this key insight into a practical instrument, he says, by inventing “Valuegraphics,” which he describes as the “world’s largest purpose-built database of shared values,” comprised of 75,000 surveys that one can algorithmically mine. It classifies respondents according to basic types, determined by core values; the 10 most popular are called “Valuegraphics Archetypes,” such as “The Adventure Club” (“the curious ones, always restless and looking to try new things”) and “The Savers Society” (which includes Allison’s “mother-in-law, who will drive forty-five minutes across town because butter is on sale”). According to the author, members of a particular archetype are overwhelmingly likely to agree with one another, which makes them remarkably predictable as a group. For example, he says, those who consider loyalty to be their chief value tend to agree with others who do so about 83 percent of the time. As one might expect, the book often reads like a long infomercial, as its sales pitch for Valuegraphics is relentless. However, Allison’s prose is lucid, engaging, and convincing, and he makes a powerful argument that our society’s “new agelessness” demands a seismic shift in marketing analysis. Further, he provides a rigorous account of Valuegraphics’ various applications and benefits. Oddly, though, he doesn’t include a full sample survey, stating that it’s too complex to show in book form.
A genuinely original contribution to marketing literature.