Using MBTI in marketing: alternatives

Keirsey’s mapping of the 4 personas is the base of the som Sex & the City model. This mapping is a simplification of the 16 MBTI types. The MBTI model is extremely popular all over the world and the questionnaire has been translated into 30 different languages. Over 12 million people have filled in the questionnaire by now. MBTI is not only used for personal advice but also for career advice, marriage advice, conflict & stress management and organizing teams.SATC EN

In previous postings we described the som Sex and the City model in detail, including:

  • General explanation about the Sex & the City model
  • How you can use the Sex & the City model in online marketing
  • A description about the MBTI types of dentists

However, there are different personality groupings that could be useful to use with (online) marketing. Therefore, its time to have a look at the two most important alternatives for MBTI:

  • The ‘Big Five’ personality characteristics
  • The mapping based on the DiSC test

The Big Five

The ‘Big Five factor model for personality’s’ is, just as MBTI, scientifically proven and measures the so-called Big Five personality characteristics:


Canicas Sex & The City model: MBTI gebruiken bij marketing

  1. Openness
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Extroversion
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Neuroticism

Every characteristics is divided into 6 components; this way 30 personality components are measured. The reliability and validity has been deemed excellent by many scientific studies.

However, the most important question is: is this model interesting for marketing?

Research has shown that customer behavior and product preferences can be predicted by using individual Big Five profiles. Therefore, there is a correlation between the personality of the customer and the preferred brand values.

  • For example, someone that scores highly on extraversion and openness is more likely to to buy new products than someone who scores highly on introvert and low on openness.
  • People who score highly on extraversion and openness react stronger towards affective stimuli (stimuli that produces positive feelings).
  • Openness, friendliness and extraversion are correlated with the appreciation of hedonistic products while neuroticism and conscientiousness are related with utilitarian (functional, task-related and rational) products.

We can see that the Big Five model is well substantiated, although it is not often used for marketing purposes. That’s a pity, because the use of this personality model can ensure a better match between the message and the potential customer.

A different model: The DiSC

DiSC is a personality assessment tool that has been used by more than 40 million people. The tool explains how people react in different environments. With this tool the emotional reaction of the surroundings is related to the actual behavior. The assumption used in this model is that people will always react according to their preferences, no matter the situation.

The personality styles are Dominance, Influence, Compliance and Steadiness. The characteristics of the different personality styles are:DiSC eng

  • The D-personality (15-20% of the population): determined, confident, short-spoken, impatient, wants to control others.
  • The I-personality (25-30% of the population): Emotional, lively, likes to talk, optimistic, fickle, enthusiastic.
  • The S-personality (35-40%): quiet, patient, friendly, cooperative, sensitive, wants personal contact.
  • The C-personality (15-20% of the population): reserved, careful, cautious, disciplined, rational, needs reason).

DiSC and marketing

Marketing for people who score highly on Dominance

  • These people make quick decisions when they buy something.
  • Using effective and striking headlines works well for dominant customers.
  • Its important to provide facts and the competitive advantages straight away. If they see a message that grabs their attention they stop searching and start reading. However, if there is nothing that attracts them straight away you will loose them and they will go somewhere else.

Marketing for people who score highly on influence

  • These people think that photo or video is worth more than a thousand words.
  • Images of people who are enjoying themselves in the company of other people works well among these people.
  • It’s important to show that the product is fun and cool and that it connects people.
  • These customers want to see customer reviews of people who already bought the products and often make decision fairly quick.

Marketing for people who score highly on Steadiness

  • These people are not searching new products, are happy with the status quo and don’t often change their habits.
  • To convince these people to purchase a high value product, you will have to convince the customer multiple times before they will make the purchase. However, the advantage of these customers is that when they are a customer they are not likely to move to a competitor in the near future.
  • It is important to show trust symbols such as visa and MasterCard logo’s.

Marketing for people who score highly on Compliance

  • These people like to see, similar to steadiness people, trust symbols.
  • They want to know all product specifications and are willing to spend a lot of time researching before they buy something. They would like to know everything: customer experiences, studies that show how the product works, numbers, prices, possible uses, warranties etc.
  • These customers need several sales approaches before they make a decision. These multiple approaches are necessary to provide them with a clear overview of the whole process.

Focus on 1 type or all four?

It is possible to focus your campaign on one specific type, although it is more effective to focus on all four types all in once.

  • So it has to be easy to spot the competitive advantages straight away. (D)
  • Use fun images and pictures that attract attention. (I)
  • It should give people a positive feeling (S)
  • Offer enough details and prove to convince the C types

At the end of the day – which model to use?

There is more than MBTI: we have seen that you could also use the Big Five or the DiSC model for marketing purposes. One person might prefer the MBTI mapping, whereas some people prefer the Big Five or the DiSC. However, it does not matter which mapping you use, for each of them it is most effective to focus on all four types so that you reach all potential customers with your marketing activities.

Contact Hans Drenth to discuss the possibilities to make your marketing more effective.

Read about the cases where som strongly increased conversion