Thursday, October 31, 2013

Online Assignment #2

According to the VALS survey, I was classified primarily as an Innovator and secondarily as an Experiencer. While I don’t think that either of these classifications is necessarily a spot-on description of myself, I think that the combination of the two provides a somewhat accurate description of my personality traits and habits as a consumer. 

Innovators are characterized as “successful, sophisticated, take-charge people,” who express themselves through their image, which displays their “taste, independence, and personality.” While I don’t think this is a completely accurate description of my personality, I think there are certainly aspects of this classification that ring true. I don’t think that I’m overly concerned with my image, but I definitely am aware of how I present myself and how I want to be perceived by others. Another characteristic of Innovators is that “their lives are characterized by variety,” which I strive to achieve on a daily basis. I enjoy trying new things and dislike when my day becomes routine and mundane, so I would say that this is a fairly accurate evaluation of my personality. While I don’t think that my consumer habits match those of Innovators exactly, because they are said to have “cultivated tastes for upscale, niche products” and I’m more likely to shop at H&M or a thrift store than anywhere else, the characterization as a whole is a fairly close description of how I see myself.

My secondary VALS type, Experiencer, seems to me to be a less accurate characterization of my personality but still maintains some aspects that reflect my personality and buying habits. Experiencers are described as “young, enthusiastic and impulsive consumers” that are “motivated by self-expression” and “seek variety and excitement.” My buying habits are far from impulsive, but I would agree that I strive to seek out excitement in my life and resist the routine. Overall, I feel that neither one of my VALS types describes my personality and buying habits 100% accurately but together, they create a general profile of myself that is somewhat similar to reality.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

VALS Report: Online Assignment 2

After taking the VALS survey, I was defined as an “experiencer” as my primary VALS and “maker” as my secondary VALS. In reading the descriptions of each of these VALS categories, I realize that I do have aspects of both, but I also feel that my views and behaviors slightly differ from the description of the experiencer and maker.
         In terms of being an experiencer, I do feel like I am enthusiastic and I like to purchase the new, offbeat, and risky products. I also agree that my energy finds an outlet in exercise, sports, outdoor recreation, and social activities. However, I am definitely not an impulsive buyer and I don’t spend a high proportion of my income on new products. I don’t like spending money at all, and I never buy anything unless it’s on sale. I always go for the cheapest things. I also don’t really care about having what’s “cool”. I like looking good, but I don’t really care about always having the latest trends.
         As far as the products that I would be most interested, I do really like VW and entertainment, but I don’t like Red Bull.
         In terms of being a maker, I do agree that I am motivated by self-expression. I also like to learn from experience and do work to make the world a better place. I do believe I am practical, but I feel like I have interest in living outside the context of family, practical work, and physical recreation. I am passionate about travel and learning about the world. Different cultures fascinate me and I love to experience new things. I also feel like I am suspicious of big business and don’t necessarily agree with the virtues of consumerism. Material possessions aren’t as important to me as the relationships I form with other people.
         The products “makers” are most interested in don’t appeal to me at all. I am not into NASCAR at all and I don’t want a Dodge Ram. These things seem to appeal more to men.
         Overall, I think the VALS survey got my behavior half right. Some of the things it said were true to my values, but about half of the things it defined me as are not true to who I am. This shows that these highly complex systems for evaluating consumer behavior are not always accurate. Companies spend a ton of money to learn about their target audiences, and the accuracy of my VALS report shows that the research they are doing might not even be effective. Human behavior is hard to define because everyone is different. Character traits manifest themselves in different ways in everyone. Therefore, defining consumers based on their interests won’t necessarily reflect how they behave in a consumer society. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

VALS assessment--assignment #2

According to my VALS survey, my consumer type is primarily Innovator and my secondary type is experiencer. Some of the assessments are spot-on, but also generally spot-on to most of the college-aged population.

As an “innovator” I have been profiled as a “successful, sophisticated, take-charge” person who is “receptive to new ideas and technologies”.  I can take-charge when I need to, but, actually, I prefer not to lead if I’m being honest. I wouldn’t say I’m drawn to being a leader in business and government like the profile guesses. I think it is true that I’m receptive to what is new, but I also think that is true for a majority of my generation.  We’re programmed to be. The innovator profile also labels me as someone who cares about image to express “taste, independence, and personality”, which is more or less true. Again, though, I think that is a truth for my generation in general. I don’t think that I’m materialistic, or I at least try very hard not to be, and this seems to have labeled me as someone who is. I certainly wouldn’t put sparkling water or a BMW on a list of my favorite things.

My second type, “experiencer”, seemed to reflect me a bit more. It is true that I’m young and enthusiastic. However, I have to say I’m far from an impulsive consumer. I tend to have developed reluctance to spend money on something over the years and suffer a lot of buyer’s remorse.  A high proportion of my income is probably indeed spent on fashion, entertainment, and socializing. But, honestly, what college student doesn’t spend a high majority of income on those three things? I think what this profile is saying is that I prefer to spend money on experience rather than just things, which is something I find true about myself. I just contemplate those purchases more than the profile guesses. 

Online Assignment #2

According to the VALS survey, my primary type is Experiencer and my secondary type is Innovator. Overall, I would agree with this assessment.
Experiencers are "avid consumers" who "spend a comparatively high proportion of their income on fashion, entertainment, and socializing." As a self-diagnosed online-shopping addict, I can vouch for the validity of this statement. I spend a great deal of my savings on clothing and accessories, especially shoes. In addition, I subscribe to multiple fashion magazines and know more pop culture facts than one should admit. I also am one to never pass up the opportunity to go to a concert or eat at a new restaurant with friends. Traveling and trying new things are two of my favorite pastimes  Because each of these things fall under the Experiencer category, it's safe to say VALS analyzed my primary type correctly.
Although I would not always consider myself sophisticated, there are definitely certain Innovator qualities that apply to my character. Like an Innovator, I’m typically concerned with my image “as an expression of [my] taste, independence, and personality.” I tend to dress in a way that conveys my sense of style and how I want to be perceived. I also am one who feels the need to take charge when placed in a group-work situation. When power is out of my hands, it makes me anxious. Therefore I usually fall under the “take-charge” characteristic of Innovators. I also seek challenges, especially academically. I like being in rigorous courses because I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment I get when completing them.

VALS - Online Assignment #2

VALS said that my dominant consumer type is Innovator and my secondary type is Achiever. I mostly agree with these results - while not everything is accurate, most statements in the descriptions are somewhat similar to my worldview.

Innovators are “receptive to new ideas and technologies” and “active consumers [whose] purchases  reflect cultivated tastes for upscale, niche products and services.” It is true that I enjoy learning about new ideas - I enjoy going to the public lectures available on campus, as well as reading for pleasure and listening to radio programs. I also enjoy learning about the tech world through WIRED (one of my supposed favorite things is accurate!) and in various product catalogues through my job as a sound engineer. There are some niche products for which I have a ‘cultivated taste’ - one that immediately comes to mind is different kinds and methods of brewing coffee; another is local food - but for the most part I don’t tend to buy things that are ‘upscale’. I wouldn’t characterize myself as an active consumer - I justify buying things that I know I need that will last, as opposed to things that will only stay trendy for a year or two.  And my life may be “characterized by variety,” but then again, isn’t this true for all college students? Come to think of it, doesn’t everyone want “a rewarding experience” as one of their favorite things? 

Achiever, my secondary type, is dedicated to “a deep commitment to career and family.” Achievers “live conventional lives, are political conservative, and respect authority and the status quo.” This description is probably a complete 180 degrees away from me and actually made me laugh. While I tend to throw myself into work when it really interests me, and enjoy having close relationships, I doubt that my lifestyle can be characterized as ‘conventional’. I’m not at all politically conservative. And I think the status quo is not the end-all be-all. I sometimes enjoy “time-saving devices,” and enjoy “recognition at work”, but I don’t drive a Honda and actively avoid Rachael Ray and low - calorie beer (gross).  While the Achiever type somewhat reflects my consumer type, I think it more accurately reflects me in another thirty years. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trevor Dinsmoor--VALS results

I always have mixed feelings when I take surveys because I strongly believe that one’s perceptions of oneself and what is actually true about oneself (if that can really be defined or it is even fair to say that we are different than our perceptions of ourselves) often greatly conflict. My VALS results were Experiencer for my primary type and innovator for my secondary type.
               I could see why the VALS survey put me into these categories, but I do not really agree with the results. First of all, “Experiencers are avid consumers and spend a comparatively high proportion of their income on fashion, entertainment, and socializing” whereas I am very fashion conscious, but in an incredibly frugal way. I usually dress well, but every dress shirt I own was purchased on sale or clearance and I get a lot of use out of. I also don’t spend that much on entertainment in general, being an overall stingy spender who needs to justify almost every purchase he makes. I think the VALS survey confused my answers about liking to try new things as meaning that I do them unconditionally, regardless of cost and consequence. In reality, I weigh out most things before I try them. My desire to experience comes from a desire for new knowledge/wisdom and to get out of my comfort zone.
               The Innovator category into which VALS placed me is perhaps more accurate. I do like to think that I have a “cultivated taste for the finer things in life.” I can be real snob, even taking pride in it to a certain extent. I tend to be a “take-charge” person, but often just because I despise others’ lack of decision or leadership, thus necessitating someone stepping up to the role. I am not sure that I would describe myself as a “very active consumer” because I am pretty thrifty, but my expenses often are for certain “upscale, niche products.” However, I think that the survey intends these products to mean the iphone when it first came out or the latest tablet right now. I hardly ever have the latest niche product like those examples. My purchases are more akin to a higher quality bottle of wine or the latest microbrew beer because I want to try new things and develop my pallet.

               I think that the VALS survey was too short to really get at how someone views him/herself. Moreover, many of the questions can be answered for reasons different than what the categories into which they lead you really are supposed to mean.

Assignment 2

            The primary VALS type the survey assigned me is an experiencer, and the secondary type is an innovator.  I believe these categorizations are a fairly accurate assessment of my individual behavior, especially related to my consumption patterns. My primary categorization as an experiencer aligns with my excitement for new experiences and action.  When it comes to travel and fun social experiences, I usually tend to splurge and be impulsive with my consumerism.  I am willing to spend a large amount of my income on travel, concerts, skiing, and various other recreational and social activities.  I believe that seeing the world and having new experiences are almost always a good use of my money, and I rarely regret my impulsive purchases on these things. The description of experiencers also states, “their purchases reflect the emphasis that they place on looking good and having “cool” stuff.  I acknowledge that I sometimes spend too much on “cool stuff”; however, I believe that the component of the description of the experiencer that emphasizes spending on activities and experiences rather than objects, more accurately describes my consumer behavior. 
My secondary categorization as an innovator also describes many aspects of my behavior.  The description states that innovators lives “are characterized by variety.”  I have a variety of interests that are reflected in my patterns of consumption, such as music, various recreational activities, and academic interests. Overall, I believe the VALS analysis is a good representation of my self-perception, and therefore would be very affective in assessing and predicting my consumer behavior.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Research Report: Jill Maher, Kenneth Herbst, Nancy Childs and Seth Finn

Jill Maher, Kenneth Herbst, Nancy Childs and Seth Finn’s article, “Racial Stereotypes in Children’s Television Commercials,” touches on issues of race and advertising exposure. They claim the issue is important because, “expectations and assumptions created by media are so strong that it can take time to disentangle reality from perception.” The authors investigate “ethnic representations in children’s television advertising” and the “presence of ethnic stereotypes in character portrayals.” Arguments highlighted in the article include how representation of ethnic groups in children’s television advertisements is not proportional to the real population proportion and that Caucasians and Asians are more positively stereotyped and interact less with Hispanics and African Americans, who have more negative stereotypes.

Jill Maher is currently a professor of marketing at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania. Maher has a Ph.D. in Marketing from Kent State University. According to Maher’s Robert Morris University profile, Maher’s area of focus is on areas related to advertising focused on child consumers. Seth Finn is also a professor at Robert Morris University who teaches communications with a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Kenneth Herbst is an assistant professor at Wake Forest University with a Ph.D., and researches topics that include food marketing and consumer decisionmaking. Like Herbst, Nancy Childs also researches the food industry and is a professor of food marketing and international business at St. Joseph’s University.

All four authors have Ph.D.s and specialize in related areas such as marketing, the food industry, decisionmaking, marketing and the social and environmental factors that influence and are influenced by media. As professors performing and publishing research, each author is more than familiar in the article’s topic, but they still include an extensive list of references because the article was written for an academic journal, the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR). This demonstrates what Kovach and Rosenstiel call “clarity of method”. The authors also clearly state what they know and what they do not yet know, which also nods to Kovach and Rosenstiel’s depiction of good journalism.

In terms of audience, the authors were likely writing for an academic demographic. According to the JAR website, the journal’s “primary audience is practitioners of all levels of practice,” and it aims to encourage “dialogue between practitioners and academics.” The authors acknowledge their audience by pointing out the implications of their research. They are both urging advertisers “to be aware of the negative consequences of negative portrayals,” while at the same time, they are possible providing more material for “aggressive marketers they may be able to exploit ethnicity and use it to build brand loyalty.”

As with any form of media presented to us, we do not have to accept every claim as truth, but Maher, Herbst, Childs and Finn’s article sits high on the spectrum of trustworthiness according to Kovach and Rosenstiel’s criteria for good journalism. As an article published in an academic journal and reviewed by the journal’s editors, written by four professors carrying both their reputations and their universities’ reputations, we may be more confident in considering the arguments.


"Faculty/Staff: Jill K. Maher." Profile. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
"Faculty/Staff." Profile. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
"Journal of Advertising Research - Overview." The Advertising Research Foundation -. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
"Kenny Herbst | WFU Schools of Business." Kenny Herbst | WFU Schools of Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
Kovach, Bill, and Tom Rosenstiel. Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010. Print.
"Nancy M. Childs, Ph.D." Saint Joseph's University. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

            After taking the VALS survey, my primary type was an “experiencer” while my secondary type was an “innovator.” An experiencer is described as being “motivated by self-expression” according to the Strategic Business Insight website. The website describes them as being very into entertainment, fashion, and social events and that is where they spend a majority of their money on. Although I do enjoy going out, meeting new people, and experiencing new things, I definitely do not place as much emphasis on “looking cool and having ‘cool’ stuff” like the website describes. Under experiencer’s favorite things include Rolling Stone magazine and Red Bull energy drinks. I have never tried an energy drink in my life, surprisingly. I just prefer coffee. And I think I may have opened a Rolling Stone once, but still don’t usually read magazines similar to it. I love being entertained and definitely don’t like being bored, but I do not think that this VALS type best describes me.
 However, when reading about my secondary VALS type as an innovator, I related more to their description. This VALS type I think more accurately reflected my want for variety in life. I also liked their description as image being important as an “expression of their taste, independence, and personality.” I responded positively and related more to this statement than any of the other statements on the experiencers’ type. I also liked their categorization of favorite things “a rewarding experience,” and as goofy as it sounds, sparkling water. I do most things to feel rewarded after doing them, whether it be working out, or studying hard for an exam. But I do drink sparkling water daily, which made this VALS type description even more relatable.  

Online Assignment #2

In the VALS survey, I was categorized first as an Innovator, and secondarily as an Experiencer. The first categorization was not a surprise. I love BMWs (stick shift, always), sparkling water and Wired - in that order. I also felt this categorization reflected my purchasing habits. While I don't necessarily buy many things, I'm more likely to spend a lot of money when I do buy something. Quality over quantity.
I have to admit I was a little surprised by the Experiencer categorization, though. While I enjoy new things, I'm definitely not much of a risk-taker. I also really dislike Red Bull. Give me a regular cup of coffee, any day. I felt as though the questions and I misunderstood each other - they asked me whether I liked new and exciting experiences, without realizing that what I see as new and exciting is an initiative I proposed at work, not a crazy all-nighter.
While I understand that these kinds of categorization can be helpful and important tools for advertisers - and can encompass, certainly, parts of personalities - I think they are a perfect example of the simplification that marketing to groups necessarily requires. Innovator describes my personality in some ways, but Experiencer does not. Personally, I resent being so arbitrarily thrown into a category or box - and think even those categories were arbitrarily drawn up by people with different values and ideas of how values correlate. For example, I deeply value my family and would have probably been more suited for the Achievers category than Experiencer. But I wasn't even considered for the Achievers because I'm not a very religious person. The marketing algorithm passed by a huge part of my personality, because I didn't fit with their idea that to value my family, I must be religious.
Everyone is an Innovator, Experiencer, Achiever, Thinker, or Survivor on different days, at different points in their life, and on different issues. We can only hope that as marketing evolves it will learn to divide consumers by their individuality and differences - not their one-size-fits-all similarities.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Online Assignment #2

After taking the VALS survey, I was primarily categorized as a "Striver".  The description of this category seemed inaccurate to how I view myself and my values, however a couple aspects may be applicable.

My primary categorization, "Striver", is described as a "trendy and fun loving" person who seeks approval from others.  While my vanity encourages me to consider myself trendy, I must admit this is rather inaccurate, and I also hope to be seen as fun loving, but my cynicism makes me doubt that I am.  Another quality mentioned in the description is "a lack of skills and focus often prevents them from moving ahead".  This phrase stung a bit, I will admit.  Having participated in two sports throughout high school, working at least 12 hours a week during the school year, and maintaining a UW-Madison worthy GPA, I like to think I am focused and achievement driven.

Another aspect of the description was buying habits.  "Strivers" are supposedly impulsive buyers who hope to emulate high financial status then they truly have.  I like to think I lead a modest life in relation to my financial status and do not live outside my means.  Finally, in each of the descriptions is a list of supposedly "Favorite Things" of people in that category.  "Striver's" favorite things are listed as Chevrolet automobiles, Coke Classic, Playboy magazine, and winning the lottery.  Being raised in an all Ford everything sort of family, I was immediately offended.  The Coke Classic is rather mundane, however, Playboy is offensive for obvious reasons, and winning the lottery implies a preoccupation with money that I very much hope to avoid in life.

Many of the questions were very similar, which I assume was purposeful, and there were not many questions in the survey (about 40).  Overall, I do not think the number of questions, especially considering the repetition, could produce results with such specific categorization while maintaining accuracy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Online Assignment 2

My primary VALS type is Experiencer, and my secondary type is Achiever. For the most part I do think the categorization accurately reflects my outlook. As for Experiencer, it was correct in saying that I do spend a comparatively high proportion of my income on fashion, entertainment, and socializing. I like to go out with my friends, watch movies, go out to eat and of course shopping because I like to look presentable on a daily basis. I would say I often spend money on things that are “in” or “cool” and that I do put an emphasis on looking good. Additionally, I love to be outside, get exercise and play sports, however I am not much of a risk taker. I like variety and excitement, but to an extent. VALS said some of my favorite things are VW, Rolling Stone, and Red Bull. First, I own a Buick and love it. Second, I have never picked up that magazine (Rolling Stone) and probably will not in the near future and lastly I do not enjoy energy drinks nor have I ever tried Red Bull. However, overall the categorization of my primary type was fairly accurate.

            I think Achiever definitely fits me as a secondary type, but as with the first type I also differ in some aspects. I am very committed to my family and to school and I like stability. But, I am not a conservative and I do not always like the status quo. Image is important to me but I would not buy a product just to demonstrate my success to my peers. Again, I like my Buick and not a Honda. I also do not read the “typical” mom magazine like Every Day with Rachael Ray or drink low-calorie domestic beer. My drink of choice is Snapple.

           I know the descriptions will not match up to every single person exactly and this can be seen in my description because the Experiencer is a little more crazy then I am, but the Achiever is more conventional. Overall though, I think VALS pretty accurately captured me as a person and as a consumer.