Why marketing degrees need a module on the Big Five Personality Model

Harvard University Graduates on Commencement DayHuman behaviour poses a host of questions to marketers. Why do people behave the way they do? How do advertising and marketing professionals decide which group of people are more receptive to their communication?

These questions are at the top of many lists. And they should be. The solution would not only optimise marketing communications but will also make for better campaigns.

This is why, it’s imperative that universities look towards having a module on personality insights in their marketing degrees.

Young marketing professionals have to be go-getters in today’s competitive job market. Learning about how personality influences behaviour and purchasing decisions in universities will provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to get ahead from the moment they step into their first job till after the point they start working on marketing campaign strategies.

So how do we do this? And why are we talking about The Big Five Personality Model instead of the other consumer behaviour models already taught at university?

The current principles are based on age-old concepts of classic cognitive psychology and sociological models of consumer behaviour. And while these are still relevant, there’s a big piece of the puzzle that’s missing which will be filled with the Big Five Personality Model.

Developed by researchers Costa and Norman, it is now the most widely used model to generally describe how a person engages with the world.

What is the Big Five Personality Model?

Contemporary psychologies believe that all of human behaviour can be explained to these five fundamental personality traits:

  1. Agreeableness is a person’s tendency to be compassionate and cooperative toward others.
  2. Conscientiousness is a person’s tendency to act in an organised or thoughtful way.
  3. Extraversion is a person’s tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others.
  4. Emotional range, also referred to as neuroticism or natural reactions, is the extent to which a person’s emotions are sensitive to the person’s environment.
  5. Openness is the extent to which a person is open to experiencing a variety of activities.

Each of these top-level dimensions has six facets that further characterise an individual according to the dimension.

Why is it more important than ever in digital marketing?

According to Gartner’s 2014 CMO Spend Survey, social marketing is 11% of the 2014 digital marketing budget and is expected to grow to 13% in 2015. With such an increase in budgets, the emphasis on campaign ROIs will become greater.

Every marketing channel is cluttered with noise and consumers are currently facing information overload more than ever. Understanding about and actively applying personality insights will help gain a competitive edge, and cut right through that noise. It’ll not only make targeting more precise but will also make understanding competitor audience easier and more efficient.

Personality insights can play a two-pronged role: campaign optimisation and strategic planning. For example, when planning a Twitter marketing campaign, personality insights will tell marketers who within their audience is most likely to redeem coupons or retweet content.

While segmenting using variables such as location, age or gender give a top level idea of the target audience, it’s important to narrow down audience personas as much as possible. Personality insights is a huge breakthrough in our industry and the time to take advantage of it is now.

The sooner this is spoken about at university, discussions will spark, ideas will form and we’ll be at the forefront of greater marketing.
Javier Burón, co-founder and chief executive of SocialBro