The enneagram profiling system provides nine profiles/types of consumers based on emotional behavior.  It will enable you to quickly identify your company’s customer types and effectively find the best brand ambassadors.

by Sofia Ribeiro, Founder of Kiwano Marketing

Earlier this month, I attended a tradeshow where I came across a potential client. We chatted a bit about marketing and new customer needs, and ended up talking about customer profiling systems. It’s interesting to realize how some systems still haven’t gone mainstream.

One of these profiling tools is the enneagram system. It provides nine profiles/types of consumers based on emotional behavior, and is one of the most accurate profiling systems I’ve come across with so far.

Chris Arnold, on his latest book titled Ethical Marketing and The New Consumer, summarized the nine types of consumers according to the enneagram profiling system:

Reformers
According to this profiling tool, Reformers are one of the strongest ethical groups. They are driven by the need to do what’s good and right. Reformers have strong principles and values, and tend to be idealistic. They want to convert people and are strong advocates of their beliefs.

Reformers are your typical environmental champion and will recommend your ethical brand.

Helpers
Helpers are caring, selfless, interpersonal, and generous, and will go out of their way for others. They are not materialistic and not driven by money. Helpers are altruistic and happy to volunteer to clean up a beach or a park, and tend to have strong people ethics such as fair-trade. Although they support charitable and ethical causes, Helpers tend to not have a lot of money – and typically can’t afford or premium green products.

Helpers like to help each other, so they are likely to recommend a company. When appealing to Helpers, address what’s in it for their friends.

Achievers
Achievers are success-oriented, pragmatic and highly driven, professional and image-conscious. Some marketers believe that, deep down, Achievers fear failure. Materialistic and reward-oriented, they seek recognition.

For Achievers, ethics is usually a vehicle for looking caring at dinner parties, corporate presentations and golf clubs. Achievers follow market trends and only rarely use their drive to become a green champion.

Achievers might recommend a brand by lecturing people on the fact that your company is the best, but only if they looked good for doing that.

Individualists
Individualists are private and sensitive, withdrawn, expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and often temperamental and moody. Some Individualists have low self esteem and won’t buy “look at me” brands; they usually buy alternative brands in order to show their rejection of the masses.

Individualists are likely to be early cause campaigners but, as soon as the cause goes mainstream, they’ll be inclined to move on. Individualists are early greens and are hard to sell to, unless you’re a unique brand. The exact opposite of Helpers, Individualists are usually selfish.

Individualists are not likely to recommend any company to their friends and family.

Investigators
Investigators are intense, curious, self-improving, innovative, secretive and isolated, but perceptive. Book lovers and passionate about knowledge, they seek to be experts, offering advice – which they probably went into some trouble and care to get it right. Investigators don’t like sloppiness and vagueness, and know their ground when it comes to ethics. Investigators won’t waste your time arguing, but some are inclined to become fixed on a belief, adjusting facts to fit that belief.

If an Investigator buys from you, it means they feel you’re the best choice. In order to be recommended by these consumers, you need to flatter their ego and make them feel valuable.

Loyalists
Loyalists are committed, hard working and (as their name implies), tend to become loyal to beliefs and associations. If they buy your brand for an ethical reason, they’ll stick with it and it will take a lot to break the bond. Emotionally, Loyalists are security-oriented: they like the conformity and are suspicious of change. Loyalists tend to work in banks and insurance companies.

Loyalists are very supportive and, out of loyalty, will do what you ask of them. They form strong relationships with brands and will recommend you to their social circles.

Enthusiasts
Enthusiasts live life to the full, seeking the stimulus of adventure. They are always busy juggling a million things, and then to be chaotic and very versatile. Extrovert, Enthusiasts are fun loving and get easily bored if they don’t have anything to do. They’re passionate about what they do and love to be involved. (The busy hippie types and the environmental adventurers fit in this group.) Enthusiasts are very active when involved in ethical causes.

Enthusiasts never say no and are glad to recommend you brand. Just make it fun and challenging and they will be off telling everyone. The only setback is that they might be so busy that may never get around to actually recommending you.

Challengers
Challengers are control freaks who tend to be afraid of not being in control. Self-confident, decisive and dominating, Challengers can be confrontational and don’t like being told what to do. Critical, they can become argumentative to reinforce their superiority. Challengers are great to have on your side if you’re championing an ethical cause.

Challengers don’t like being used. It will be better for you if you don’t ask for a recommendation.

Peacemakers
Peacemakers are agreeable and easy going – the very opposite of Challengers. They sit on the fence and follow the crowd, rather than expressing a personal choice. Self-effacing, Peacemakers are good listeners and tend to be very aware. They rarely stand up alone. Instead, Peacemakers go with the flow and buy in tune with the masses.

Peacemakers champion love and peace, hate confrontation, war and exploitation (especially people exploitation). Community is very important for Peacemakers: they usually buy from local suppliers and support people-based ethics such as fair-trade.

Peacemakers don’t tend to be good brand advocates but, as fine communicators and listeners, they might act as a linker for you if they’re convinced about you.

The enneagram profiling system will enable you to quickly identify your company’s customer types and effectively find the best brand ambassadors. What profiling system do you use?

© 2009 – 2010, Sofia_Ribeiro. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Sofia_Ribeiro (13 Articles)

Sofia Ribeiro is the founder and co-owner of Kiwano Marketing, a green marketing services provider dedicated to support small, sustainable businesses. An experienced marketing professional and a green enthusiast, Sofia has an extensive marketing background across both small businesses and large enterprises throughout Europe and North America. Her expertise lays in guerrilla marketing and Internet marketing techniques, paired with a solid experience in copywriting and industry research. Sofia also manages a green marketing blog at http://www.kiwano.ca/blog.