What Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne can tell us about where people shop

For years, we have satisfied ourselves with the “how” consumers interact with our brands. The missing link has always been the “why” consumers choose our brands and products over our competitors – or why not.

Is this purely by chance? Are these random and unpredictable acts? Now we learn and understand that it is actually our subconscious that determines up to 95% of our purchase decisions. It is the subconscious that answers the question as to “why”.

Let me provide this example to make the point:

Two men in the same demographic: Male, 61+ years, with income over $1 million. However, it goes without saying that there are worlds between Prince Charles and the British rock star Ozzy Osbourne.

So what is the explanation that classic demographic segmentation and also behavioural data still fail to reveal? Besides maybe being able to track that the one shops for black nail polish whereas the other doesn’t, what is missing here is the “why”. This is addressed by understanding their personality types.

Limbic® Types: neuropsychological customer profiling

It is by understanding customers’ personality types and their emotional drivers that we get to understand why people connect with certain brands – and why not. What is meaningful to them and what is just marketing noise. Which shopping experience gets them to vote with their wallets and which turns them away (See my previous blog: Subconscious mechanisms at the point of sale).

Now let me share with you a brief insight into who the seven neuro-psychological segments are and where their personalities direct them to shop.

Let’s continue our example of Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne and how their personalities would direct them to shop at certain retail brands. Admittedly, we haven’t tested them personally but their behaviours, hobbies and looks reveal a great deal about them (although they might surprise us!)

Charles the Traditionalist


Brain and behavior of the Traditionalist

The concentration of noradrenaline and cortisol is considerably increased in the Traditionalist’s brain. As a result, the risk adverse Traditionalist is not seeking new experiences. He examines everything thoroughly and remains sceptical about innovations. Uncertainty is his biggest enemy. Traditionalists seek order, control and stability and therefore love and preserve rituals and traditions.

Store experience and visual merchandising for Traditionalists

Focus on (certified) quality; clear structures, cleanliness and a comprehensible guiding system. Subtle colours and a clear assortment with only few product alternatives are preferred. Local is a bonus and consistency an absolute must.

Ozzy the Hedonist


Brain and behavior of the Hedonist

The brain of Hedonists is dominated by the happiness hormone dopamine. As a consequence, Hedonists are driven by creativity, innovations, and extraordinary experiences rather than relying on reflection. They often appear as very individualistic, are spontaneous, curious and actively avoid routines.

Store experience and visual merchandising for Hedonists

Highly inspiring, fashionable, aspirational. Interactive zones and technologies, strong multi-sensory experience, intense lighting, bright signage. Innovations are more than welcome. Quality plays a minor role – experience and fun are what matters!

As you can see the only thing these two gentlemen share is their demographic but they are, in reality, worlds apart. Their individual emotional drivers will determine what they expect when shopping – from the right message, to the right brand and product cues, right through to the type of service and in-store design they will go for. After all, their personalities will tell them where to shop.

Katharina Kuehn is director of RDG Insights, a subsidiary of Retail Doctor Group, which provides retailers and brands with the missing link between understanding the real drivers of consumer behaviours and informing the strategic branding and operational implications at the point of sale. “Innovative consumer insights are vital to the development and implementation of a truly differentiated brand strategy. How we as humans interact with brands in a meaningful and loyal way underpins the growth and profitability of all businesses.”



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