Special Session Summary Lifestyle, Values, and Psychographics: Perspectives From Around the World


Lynn R. Kahle (1999) ,"Special Session Summary Lifestyle, Values, and Psychographics: Perspectives From Around the World", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Bernard Dubois, Tina M. Lowrey, and L. J. Shrum, Marc Vanhuele, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 1-3.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 1999      Pages 1-3



Lynn R. Kahle, University of Oregon, U.S.A.


The concepts of values, lifestyles, and psychographics, overlap. Values are enduring beliefs "that a specific mode of conduct or end-state is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence" (Rokeach, 1973, p.5). One participant form this session defines lifestyle as an exhibited "set of shared values or tastes" (Solomon, 1994, p 621), thus making clear the overlap between values and lifestyles. Another author defines lifestyle more conventionally as "the manner in which people conduct their lives, including their activities, interests, and opinions" (Peter & Olson, 1994, p. 463). Given the evidence of a sequence of influence from values to attitudes to behaviors (Homer & Kahle, 1988), even this second definition shows the strong conceptual overlap between values and lifestyles. Solomon defines psychographics as the use of psychological, sociological, and anthropological factors to construct market segments (p. 623), whereas Peter and Olson restrict their definition to the more narrow concept of "dividing markets into segments on the basis of consumer lifestyles, attitudes, and interests" (p. 465). Yet another text explicitly defines psychographics and lifestyles as nearly interchangeable: "In fact, psychographics and lifestyle are frequently used interchangeably. Psychographic research attempts to place consumers on psychologicalCas opposed to purely demographicCdimensions" (Hawkins, Best, & Coney, 1995,p. 328). They describe the other dimensions as values, attitudes, activities, interests demographics, media patterns, and usage rates, Thus, we again see how interwined the concepts of values, lifestyles and psychographics are.

The past decade has witnessed considerable progress both conceptually and methodologically in lifestyle research. Its persistence continues to befuddle doomsayers. Many researchers have continued to develop ways to incorporate values, lifestyles, and psychographic information into their models, even as others have abandoned it in frustration. Consumer researchers have continued to probe areas in which it proves particularly interesting, such as cross-national research and trend research. Many authors persist in their convictions that individuals differ in important ways above and beyond demographics and that understanding these differences matters greatly in marketing.

One problem has been that lifestyle researchers from around the world have often not interacted with one another. Thus, lifestyle conceptualization have often developed with idiosyncratic local characteristics, thus impeding the development of a truly international theory of lifestyle. This session brings together scholars with experience in researching lifestyles who live in four different areas: Asia, Europe the Southeast United States, and the Northwest United States. The hope is that by sharing recent views in a common forum, the similarities and differences among the approaches will become manifest and that a first step toward international integration may occur.



Kau Ah Keng, National University of Singapore

The study of people’s values and lifestyles has gained increasing interest from both social scientist and marketers all over the world. For social scientists, the primary aim is to examine how people’s values and lifestyles have changed over times and to derive implications of such changes for government and society. The marketers, however, would like to know how such changes can bring forth not only marketing opportunities but also possible threats. This is important as the survival and profitability of an enterprise are dependent on how the firm can capitalize on the marketing opportunities identified and mitigate the threats involved.

Perhaps the most widely used approach to lifestyle marketing is the technique developed by Arnold Mitchell (1983) called VALS and its revised formed VALSII. In his book on "The Nine American Lifestyles", Mitchell provides a very good reason for the study of values and lifestyles (VALS). He stated that the single most compelling reason is that VALS tells us so much about what we are as individuals, as citizens, as consumers and as a nation. He went on to define values as "the whole constellation of a person’s attitudes, beliefs, opinions, hopes, fears, prejudices, needs, desires, and aspirations that, taken together, govern how one behaves".

The VALS methodology has been extended to describe lifestyle segments in several European countries. It was also used by Transport Canada to study travelers at Canadian airports. Similar studies on values and lifestyle have been mounted in Asia. In Japan, the Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living had conducted studies related to these areas. Their report, "Young Adults in Japan: New Attitudes Creating New Lifestyles", published in 1985 aimed at understanding the young Japanese in the age group of 18 and 23. Although no specific clusters were formulated, the values and lifestyles of these young people were well documented. In Taiwan, a commercial firm has been involved in a similar study and marketed the results as Integrated Consumer Profile. In Singapore, a previous study by Kau and Yang (1989) examined over 2000 Singaporeans in the group of 15 to 40. Six groups of Singaporeans were discovered using two dimensions: their value perception and psychological motivation.

This papr reports on a value and lifestyle study of Singaporeans in1996. It was based on a sample size of 1600 respondents in Singapore from the age group of 15 onwards. Specifically, the gender differences in values and lifestyles are examined. The results reveal that females are more inclined to embrace "a sense of belonging" as compared to their male counterparts. They are also more concerned to be well-respected. As for the things most wanted out of life, females put health as their top priority, followed by love, security and success. As for men, their priority is also for health but that is followed by success, love and security. When their leisure activities are examined, females are noted to favor more sedate activities such as reading, window-shopping, strolling or engaging in hobby-craft. On the other hand, men exhibit different preferences. They enjoy playing computer games, jogging, cycling, fishing and photography. Finally, some implication for marketers in Singapore are discussed.



Pierre Valette-Florence, Universites a I’Ecole Superieure des Affaires de Grenoble, France

Feldman and Hornik (1981) proposed the following classification of activities: work, necessities (sleep, etc.), domestic work, and leisure time. This classification is interesting because it proposes the different activities as a sort of ladder, descending for obligations, going from mandatory activities that are chosen freely as leisure activities. The authors (Feldman and Hornik) consider the group of chosen activities as corresponding to different behavioral types. According to them, all human activity results from these three following interdependent factors:

BThe time aspect (frequency and duration)

BThe economic aspect (referring to the cost of the activity)

BThe spacial aspect (relative to the location/place of the activity)

According to Feldman and Hornik, time is primarily the determining factor in choosing an activity. Schary (1971) similarly considers the time variable and its impact on one’s choice of activities as important criteria for segmentation. Settle, Alreck, and Glasheen (1978) also put forth evidence showing a link between people’s lifestyles and their personal orientation with regards to time. As a result of their studies, one could say that the activities in which one is involved is a reflection of behavior and use of time.

In lifestyles research, the activities usually examined are leisure activities, vacation(s), ways of relaxing in the home, attendance of social and cultural events, habits linked to professional work, exposure to different forms of media, that which correspond in fact to the partition proposed by Feidman and Hornik.

This approach is not homogeneous. As for the domain of activities chosen, in effect some of them establish a complete group of activities in all mentioned domains, so that others concentrate on certain well specified sectors, such as leisure time or exposure to various forms of media. Activities taken into account by researchers are not always identical and appear more so generated in an empirical manner for the needs of specific studies (Valette-Florence, 1994).

The study of lifestyle as time further implies a number of methodological problems that relate to operationalization of the constructs and the units of measurement, as well as the quantification of those constructs. This paper will explore these issues as well in the context of other methodological perspectives (e.g., Valette-Florence & Rapacchi 1991)



Basil G. Englis, Berry College, U.S.A.

Michael R. Solomon, Auburn University, U.S.A.

We will present preliminary results from a web-based lifestyle research project. This effort includes development of a new interactive methodology that explores the germination and dissemination of fashion trends among young female consumers. The project is funded by The National Textile Center, U.S. Department of Commerce (Solomon and Englis 1997a), and (with the cooperation of the Stanford Research Institute) uses the VALS2 consumer typology to identify female fashion opinion leaders who will participate in a web-based panel constituted from a national sample of American women corresponding to specific VALS types.

At the core of the project is a web-based interactive data collection technique that allows respondents to manipulate sets of visual images of products as a means of expressing their tastes and preferences (cf. Kephart 1998). Although potentially very powerful, visually oriented research methodologies have largely been absent in consumer research, or have been limited to small-sample qualitative studies (see, e.g., Zaltman 1996; Zaltman and Coulter 1995). In the present study, respondents use visual images to describe their aspiration (or avoidance) lifestyles by creating consumption constellations they perceive as being ideally suited to a desired (or undesired) lifestyle (Englis and Solomon 1995; 1997a; Solomon 1988; Solomon and Assael 1987; Solomon and Buchanan 1991). By choosing distinctive product groupings laden with symbolic mean-ing, consumers can communicate their affiliation with a positively valued, or aspirational, cultural category (e.g., Englis and Solomon 1995; Englis, Solomon and Olofsson 1993). They may at the same time eschew other product clusters they associate with negatively valued, or avoidance, groups (e.g., Englis and Solomon 1997b, Solomon and Englis 1997b).

One key question addressed by this program of research is to learn how female fashion opinion leaders integrate information from mass-media lifestyle depictions as they form their own consumption preferences and communicate these choices to others (cf. Englis, Solomon and Olofsson 1993; Solomon and Englis 1994). We are constructing a visual database of product images containing multiple exemplars of each product category and spanning multiple product categories. Product images are chosen from print media of particular relevance to the twentysomething female consumers in the target population, based on Simmons readership data.

There are three visuals layers to the data collection paradigm: (1) sorting and selection of images of people in their daily lives; (2) establishment of a social context in which product selection will occur; and (3) selection of an "ensemble" of products perceived to be ideally suited to each social context. Descriptive information pertaining to both the social images and the product images are included as the respondent navigates through the task.

The present study extends our previous work (Englis and Solomon 1995; Solomon and Englis 1997b) in this area by examining how consumers’ aspirations are expressed visually as they evaulate and select products. American women.



Lynn R. Kahle, University of Oregon, U.S.A.

In social adaptation theory, values are viewed as the most abstract type of social cognition, which people use to store and guide general responses to classes of stimuli. Individuals adapt to various life roles in part through value development and value fulfillment. Value development summarizes previous experience and provides a strategy for dealing with new choices. For example, people who value funand enjoyments may want a computer to play video games, whereas people who value sense of accomplishment may want a computer to use as a work tool. People who value self respect may resist any new technology that defies a goal of self-reliance.

Values develop from life experiences. People interact with their environments in an attempt to develop optimal interchanges with their environments. As Piagetican theory has so well describe, information may be assimilated into existing cognitive structures, or it may accommodate the existing cognitive structures into the more refined structures that result from additional interaction. Once acquired, information is also organized to coordinate the new information with prior knowledge. This organization can result in changes to both the new and old information, and it should lead to greater integration of information.

Homer and Kahle (1988) have shown in a structural equation study of consumer behavior a sequence from values to attitudes to consumer behavior. This sequence is consistent with social adaptation theory and is similar to the trend in corporate use of lifestyle information. Most companies no longer rely on global values alone. Rather, they prefer to use as anchors or cognitive sources from which attitudes may emerge. The attitudes will vary depending upon many demographic factors, and they will be uniquely related to the specific product at hand.

Values have the potential to help clarify the understanding of consumer’ motivations and may point to the underlying "rationality" or "psych-logic" of ostensibly illogical buying decision processes. Marketers can use value-behavior linkages or value chains to help measure and understand consumers’ involvement with a product. Similarly, value chains provide the opportunity to develop advertising programs that tie product benefits to consumers’ personal meanings at several, increasingly meaningful levels of abstraction. Furthermore, efforts to measure advertising effectiveness may be improved by assessing how successfully the ads tie product meanings back to personal values. Even if value and lifestyle information is not directly utilized creatives can understand the characteristics of certain regions or target segments if this type of information is available.

The purpose of this paper is to present an integrative review of recent research on social adaptation theory. The focus will be on describing the implications of this research for developing an internationally-integrated view of lifestyle Kahle 1995, 1996, Kahle, Kambara, and Rose 1996, Shoham, Ros and Kahle, 1998).


Englis, Basil G. and Michael R. Solomon (1995), "To Be and Not to Be? Lifestyle Imagery, Reference Groups, and The Clustering of America," Journal of Advertising, 24 (Spring), 13-28.

Englis, Basil G. and Michael R. Solomon (1997a), "Where Perception Meets Reality: The Social Construction of Lifestyles," in Values, Lifestyles, and Psychographics, eds. Lynn Kahle and Larry Ciagurus, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 25-44.

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Solomon, Michael R. and Basil G. Englis (1997a), "Consumer Preferences for Apparel and Textile Products as a Function of Lifestyle Imagery," Grant #I97-A11, National Textile Center, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Solomon, Michael R. and Basil G. Englis (1997b), "Breaking Out of the Box: Is Lifestyle a Construct or a Construction," in Consumer Research: Postcards From the Edge, eds. Stephen Brown and Darach Turley, London: Routledge, pp. 322-349.

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Zaltman, Gerald and Robin Higie Coulter (1995), "Seeing the Voice of the Customer: Metaphor-Based Advertising Research," Journal of Advertising Research, 35 (4), 35-51.



Lynn R. Kahle, University of Oregon, U.S.A.


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 1999

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