By definition, personality refers to the complex condition where various aspects such as behaviour, emotion, mental, and temperament are involved in characterizing a unique individual. In addition, the study of personality involves almost all aspects of human being activities. Theories of personality organize what we do know, stimulate new research, and formally specify a view of personality.
Concerning the relationship between personality and marketing, it is imperative that a company takes into account the behaviour of its target market. This is because customers are likely to choose and buy products that fit their characteristics. Behaviour itself occurs either in the individual level, or in the context of a group and an organization.
To take adequate actions in the area of marketing, we must understand how people perceive for example advertising, how they learn to consume, how they make decisions and how personality affects those decisions. We must also find out what kinds of motivations influence the individuals’ decisions, how attitudes are formed and how groups affect the consumers’ behaviour.
Concerning the relationship between marketing, culture, behaviour, and personality, in this paper, I would like to share analysis that explain an idea whether magazines, especially man magazine, represent consumer culture. The focus of the analysis would be on masculinity and consumerism.
However, prior to the discussion, I would like to share literature review on personality and consumer behaviour, culture as learned behaviour, attitude towards the advertising, and formation of an attitude toward a product or service such as man magazines.
II. Culture, Personality and Consumer Behaviour
II.1 Culture is Learned Behaviour
This notion suggests that culture is the results of prolonged behaviour in a society. For example, white American culture characterizes white American to be future oriented while Native American culture tends to present orientation and act as it happens now (Vogt, 1994).
II.2 Personality and Behaviour
As mentioned earlier, personality composes of various personal characteristics or attributes that portray constant patterns of someone’s behaviour. In addition, it is the “stable set of characteristics and tendencies” that determine those commonalities and differences in the psychological behaviour (thoughts, feelings, actions) of people that have continuity in time and that may not be easily understood as the sole result of the social and biological pressures of the moment. This suggests that to some degree, we are somewhat similar to other people (“What is Personality,” 2005).
In addition, the study on personality aims at explaining who we are and why we become the way we are. In these circumstances, human behaviour involves acts that are goal oriented, and result from perception, learning, and cognition (“What is Personality,” 2005). This situation explains why personality is likely to be time oriented where it reflects the past and anticipates the future.
Therefore, we can see that personality remains stable and unchanged at a given period. However, it does not mean that behaviour is unchangeable. This is because a personality is not the same with behaviour; personality is just one element of behaviour where it becomes a function of basic needs interacting with such factors such as family and culture. Meanwhile, behaviour is the mixture of various human needs, which are personalized by experiences, and it is affected by perceptions, defensiveness and expectancies (“What is Personality,” 2005).
Since someone’s personality is the result of experience and expectation the person faces, therefore, personality is different from one individual to another (Doris, 2002). However, as explained above, personality is not rigid and unchangeable. In fact, in a longer term, personality may change as well depending on experience, perception, and expectation that a person encounters.
II.3 Consumer Behaviour and Product Presentation
Studying consumers’ behaviour is highly important in today’s competitive market since it determines whether a product like man magazine will succeed in the long period or tumble when it comes into the man magazine market.
Concerning the situation, there are two reasons that drive consumers to buy a product; they are rational and emotional reason. Rational reasons might exist when a consumer chooses product based on measurable aspects such as price, warranty for a given period, and the low maintenance costs. Meanwhile, emotional reasons include several aspects such as appearance of products, perceived quality from friends and relatives and many others.
For these reasons, the study of consumer behaviour is essential in marketing of products. For consumers, perceived quality, personalized contents, price, and recognized brands become driving force to buy a product. Meanwhile, for service providers, understanding consumer’s perception, attitude, behaviour, life style, cultural become keys to success (Perner, 2005).
In this manner, we will see that marketing of man magazines also employ considerations such as perception, attitude, behaviour, and life style of its target market. For example, Mens health, Mens Fitness, Muscle and Fitness are magazines that target men who have great concern over their body shape and masculinity. Meanwhile, Mens Journal, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and GM Hiking Tech Performance are magazines that intended for hobbyist.
III. Man magazines and Representation of Consumers’ Culture
III.1 Changing Habits of Customers
These days, the habits of consumers are changing more often as it was decades ago. For example, MINI Cooper that was victorious in 1960s are having difficulty ion conquering the 21st market since nowadays customers are likely more fickle that those in 1960s. Even, BMW took over MINI in late 20th century; still MINI cannot compete with its competitors such as Mercedes A-Class and Audi A2.
The condition suggests that environment has a significant role in changing the consumers’ needs. Therefore, business that ignores customers’ behaviour in their product development and offering is likely to face difficulty in marketing the products.
In The Psychology of Consumers (2005), Lars Perner, the author, stated that a major factor for successful competing in today’s business word for a company was the understanding of consumer behaviour.
The situation raises questions as what factors shape the customers behaviour. It turns out that cultural, social experience, and psychological factors have an important impact on consumer behaviour.
Cultural factors roughly influence values, perceptions, preferences; social factors reflects the routine influences on humans; personal factors refer to the individual characteristics distinguishing one individual from others, and psychological factors point out the ways in which human thinking and thought patterns influence buying decisions.
Buying the ideas that culture is the results of prolonged behaviour of individuals, therefore, following sections show how people’s behaviour over advertising will influence their preferences in subscribing magazines.
III.2 Reaction over Advertising: Shaping People’s Behaviour
The advertiser’s aims in using women in their advertising is that they send out and image and promote the idea that by using the product you will become like the woman we have just seen. Advertisers can achieve this by the skilful use Stereotypes.
A stereotype is a ready-made image of a person or relationship that is instantly recognisable in order to endorse products. Because they are instantly recognisable, it means advertisers can save huge amounts of money by spending less time presenting the person or setting the scene. For examples are Britney Spears’ appearances in Pepsi and Toyota commercial in which she uses a sexy dress and shown “inviting” body languages that are not related to products she promotes.
Unfortunately, the use of stereotypes in commercials has much wider implications. Specifically, commercials using stereotypical women put many pressure women to achieve and pressure to live up to unreal demands.
This can be achieved by playing women’ fears and make them feel guilty, promoting a feeling of underachievement by playing on women’s insecurities, more pressure is put on the woman to become like the stereotype on the television, and women are convinced that this can be achieved by purchasing the product advertised (Price, 2002).
Unfortunately, we witness that everyday, young women and girls are becoming affected by the use of beautiful slim models and pretty look in commercials. Psychologists and doctors agree that the pressure and guilt factor in these commercials is a major contributor to the increasing cases of anorexia amongst young women (“Stereotypes,” n.d.).
Therefore, we can conclude that using stereotypes that show perfect women to attract consumers has created a culture of envy and materialism, where everyone watches each other and want what each other have. In short, the use of stereotypes in advertisement has promoted unrealistic demands among women that further by any measures will have much more negative impacts than the positive ones (Price, 2002).
The situation is also similar to men where advertising of nutrition also using a stereotype of men that have great muscle and so on, which in turn drives men to buy steroid-based supplement product.
III.3 American Magazines and Consumer Culture
III.3.1 Age of Masculinity
In the late of 19th centuries, there was an extraordinary growth in the number of readers of American general-interest magazines. During the period, the magazines tended to deliver various message about the meaning of masculinity.
However, within the next fifty years (1900-1950), there was a shifting in the discussion of masculinity. The shifting was from Victorian masculinity that addressed character, integrity, hard work, and duty, into modern masculinity that appraised personality, self-realization, and image (Pendergast, 2000).
Concerning the phenomenon, Tom Pendergast (2000), the editorial director of Full Circle Editorial, Inc., and co-editor of the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, revealed in his book titled Creating the Modern Man: American Magazines and Consumer Culture 1900-1950 that there was evidence masculinity was conveyed in magazines.
In his book, Pendergast highlighted that the 1900-1950 period was the time when consumer culture rose, giving birth to consumerism. In turn, the consumerism became the factor behind the reshaping of masculinity in America as reported in many popular magazines (Pendergast, 2000).
Interestingly, Pendergast (2000) said that such magazines encouraged men to take part in reorganize the masculine ideal. This is because during the transitional period, the magazines actively offered men new visions about masculine identity.
Moreover, some American magazines during the period such as American Magazines, Esquire, and True also showed the masculinity principle in their relation with contributors, advertisers, and of course their readers (Pendergast, 2000).
In much detail, Swiencicki (2001) analyzed that Pendergast divided the age of masculinity in two sub-periods. First period was 1900-1920s where there was presentation of articles, advertisements, and editorials in middle-class men’s magazines that emphasize the inner-directed masculinity that focus on character, hard work, and integrity.
The second period (1920s – 1940s) was the presentation of outer-directed masculinity that focused on improving men’s appearance, personality, and personal life through enlightened of consumerism (Pendergast, 2000).
III.2 Masculinity and Consumerism
The author of creating the Modern Man: American Magazines and Consumer Culture 1900-1950, Pendegast, also convey the changing trend in the presentation of object in American man magazines.
In the second half of the book, Pendelgast takes some magazines for analyzing the changes in some American magazines such as Colliers, the American, and New Success from discussing men readers to succeed in business into giving advice how to excel professional, recreational, and personal lives. In order to fulfil the second objective, the magazines enticed men readers to start buying appearance and personality enhancing products (Pendergast, 2000).
Esquire magazine, for example, was also experiencing the changes since it moved to be the first men’s magazine that exclusively delivered men’s personal and leisure lives. The condition explained that the age of consumerism start evolving.
In marketing approach, it is common to see a company that takes into account the behaviour of its target market. This is because customers are likely to choose and buy products that fit their characteristics. Behaviour itself occurs either in the individual level, or in the context of a group and an organization.
The situation also appeared at some men’s magazines, as researched by Pendelgast (2000). In his research, he selectively read about 22 magazines, which largely target men readers.
It was found from his research that men magazines in the first half of 20th centuries underwent a shifting from focusing on Victorian masculinity that addressed character, integrity, hard work, and duty, into modern masculinity that appraised personality, self-realization, and image.
Doris, J.M. (2002). Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behaviour. Cambridge University Press
Pendergast, Tom. (2000). Creating the Modern Man: American Magazines and Consumer Culture, 1900-1950. University of Missouri Press
Perner, Lars. (2005). Psychology of Consumers – Consumer Behaviour and Marketing. Retrieved April 12, 2006 from http://www.consumerpsychologist.com/#Strategy
Price, Heather. (2002). Sex and Advertising: An “Organic” Experience. Retrieved April 12, 2006 from http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f02/web2/hprice.html
Stereotypes in Advertising. Retrieved April 12, 2006 from http://www.courseworkbank.co.uk/coursework/stereotypes_advertising_1795/
Swiencicki, Mark A. (2001). Creating the Modern Man: American Magazines and Consumer Culture 1900-1950. Journal of Social History
Vogt, Nancy. (1994). Culture is Learned Behaviour. Retrieved April 12, 2006 from http://www.citilink.com/~nancyv/ojibwe/chart_3.htm
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