Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blog 6:The VALS Survey

The VALS survey is a survey designed to identify the type of person taking the survey. The survey finds out the consumer's product ownership, media preferences, hobbies, additional demographics, or attitudes. The questions in the VALS survey integrates into larger questionnaires that ask about the topics. It was first founded in 1978 by SRI International based on Arnold Mitchell's work in the 1960's on trying the explain the fragmentation of the people in the United States and the economical and societal impact of these changes. However as the 1980's went on the ability to predict consumer behavior weakened and it went under reworking by a team from SRI, Stanford, and Cal-Berkeley.

It was then they determined that psychological traits are more stable then social trends and shared values and beliefs to explain consumer behavior. The new VALS was launched in 1989 still under the philosophy that psychological traits and demographics are more powerful than demographics alone. The new VALS is still in effect today and currently consists of eight types(Innovators, Thinkers, Believers, Achievers, Strivers, Experiencers, Makers, and Survivors) and two critical concepts for understanding consumers(primary motivation(with ideals, achievement, and self-expression as sub-categories) and resources. To find out just what my type was, I took the VALS survey at The results of my survey brought me both agreement and disagreement.

My primary type was “Striver”. A Striver as defined by the survey are trendy and fun loving types. They are motivated by achievement and are always concerned about the opinions and approval of others. To a Striver money defines success as a Striver typically lacks the resources and high finances that most have. Many Strivers see themselves as having a job working somewhere instead of a long-term career mainly because a lack of skills and focus tend to prevent them from moving ahead in the career ladder.

Despite the limited funds, Strivers are active consumers because shopping is seen as both a social activity and an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to buy to others. I mainly agree with this result as throughout my life I've been motivated by achievement and has set the bar high on terms of financial gain as I see it as the true measuring stick to success in life on terms of career. I further agree with the active consumer sentiment and do feel that buying something of high rank is a high achievement to show to friends and I'm typically concerned with the opinions and approval of others. While I am trendy in some fields(on terms of buying gaming and computer products) while I'm not trendy in others(such as the purchasing of clothing and accessories) so I think its not quite accurate to say I'm trendy. Another disagreement I have is that I view my line of work as a “job” and not a career and that is because I feel that even with my lack of resources I still see my future as a career worker not a guy with a job as I feel anyone can overcome lack of anything with determination and the right motivation.

My secondary type was “Achiever”. An Achiever is typically motivated by a desire for achievement. They have goal-oriented lifestyles and a deep commitment to career and family. Their social lives reflect the focus and are structured around family and work. They live conventional lifestyles and tend to be conservative politically and prefer a predictable and stable lifestyle. Achievers are active in the marketplace preferring established and prestigious products that in their mind demonstrates success to their peers.

I fully agree with the goal-oriented lifestyle as I set goals for myself. The same can be said the deep commitment to family and career as I have valued those two things above all throughout life. However I do have several disagreements with the type of lifestyle on terms of how I like it. While I enjoy the predictable and stable life sometimes I prefer to have a change-up once in a while that changes the structure in which I'm working under and I really don't see myself as a conservative spender as I tend to throw money around upon acquiring the certain amount. I have a mixed feeling on prestigious products as while I do tend to buy them frequently I personally see no difference in wearing a plain blue t-shirt and something from a big brand like American Eagle nor do I see a difference in store-brand soda and the name-brand, as it all just tastes the same its just less “sexy” on the outside.

The VALS test was created for the purpose of identifying the type of person taking the survey. While I feel some of the results and definition of what type I am is semi-accurate in some aspects, it misses in some other places. Overall however, I see it as a much better way of determining a consumer and the closest thing to identifying the type of consumer correctly. Once again, to take the test simply go to . After taking the test go to to read more into the answers you receive or follow the above chart to see what you're categorized under.

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