Social Values – One Of The Best Segmentation Models – Part 1

Their introspection is a characteristic that makes these people very easy to misunderstand, and it is important not to confuse inner directedness with introversion or self-centeredness. What they do is to try to maximize their own, individual, potential, but they generally seek to do that in a way that is not exploitive of others.

Inner-Directed people are difficult to observe because the thing that distinguishes them from the rest of the population is their motivation rather than their behavior, and as a result of this the media has real difficulty in presenting inner directedness. Inner Directeds tend to be self-confident, and although they are by no means anti-social, they do not feel obliged to conform to stereotyped social norms.

It seems likely that it is the combination of their self-confidence and their inner sense of what is important in their lives that gives the Inner Directed group its significant role as trendsetters in society. During the past 35 years, almost every major trend in Western society has been started by this group, although the trends have then been picked up and driven, as fashion, by Outer Directeds (see below). In proportion to its size, the Inner Directed group has a greater influence in almost every area.

Outer-Directed Group

In contrast to Inner Directed people, Outer Directed people made up approximately 32 percent of the U.S. population and 28 percent of the UK in 2012. Unlike Inner Directeds, Outer Directeds rely heavily on external indicators of their own self-worth. To put it another way, an Outer Directed person’s concept of him/herself depends on their being able to achieve more than their peers.

Outer-Directed needs are centered on esteem. Therefore, at work, the Outer Directed person is conscious of and seeks actively to acquire, status and the symbols related to it. Such people are very much at home in structured, hierarchical organizations in which they can establish their position clearly and then display their position and measure their progress relative to others. In identifying themselves with a peer group in this way, Outer Directeds automatically judge themselves to be up to the group’s level, and they generally use the group as the source of the standards by which they judge their world. The people in this group are of vital social importance; they are the dynamo, the energy source in our society and economy. They are the ones who feel the need to compete, who need to prove themselves against the opposition, who have the drive to win at virtually any cost.

Sustenance Driven Group

Everywhere we look in Western industrial society, the two groups that we have just considered have been growing at the expense of a third group, which we call the Sustenance Driven. This pattern has been a consistent trend for some time, although the recent economic difficulties have had some impact here, and some countries have seen what we believe to be a short-term increase in this group. However, because of its generally declining size (approximately 18 percent of the U.S. population and 31 percent of the UK in 2012), we consider the direct impact of the Sustenance Driven group on the long-term future of Western countries to be relatively small. However, they are influential at the moment, and to neglect them would be to miss the essential role by which they will influence the future. Indeed, if the industrialized countries experience continued immigration from the developing world, this group will probably increase in size.

Sustenance Driven needs are deficiency needs, and the distinguishing characteristic of Sustenance Driven people is a desire to “hold what you’ve got.” This orientation tends to make them form homogeneous groups with well-defined characteristics and relatively impermeable boundaries. The typical picture this idea brings to mind is the tightly knit, clannish, working-class or rural community. A little reflection will indicate that these characteristics also describe a good many company directors of the “old school,” a lot of the traditional professions, not to say a good many politicians. In fact, we find that the Sustenance Driven groups include a substantial number of people from all these conventional classifications, and the thing that they have in common is that they resist change. Not only do they hold on to their possessions but to their institutions as well.

Within each of these broad groups, we may have up to four subgroups, depending on the particular country/culture and the purpose of which we are using them. We generally use these broad groupings for strategic planning, marketing planning, and R&D planning, while we use the 12 subgroups for advertising and more targeted messages.

If we have a large enough sample (approximately 5,000 people for most countries) to allow us to “slice and dice” the survey results into small segments, we can determine the values of specific small samples—people who own Ford cars versus Porsches, by age, region, and media habits, for instance. Or we can identify the values of people who prefer complementary medicine to allopathic medical approaches by age and education levels, for instance. We have had enormous success helping clients develop new products and brands, and new advertising and marketing strategies using values.

For more at the Macro-level, and for implications, see Part 2 next week.

[1] This Appendix is derived from previous work by Applied Futures. For the value’s data we want to thank our colleagues and friends Les Higgins and Pat Dade from Cultural Dynamics Strategy & Marketing in the UK. They have taken Applied Futures’ original social values models and have expanded and updated them considerably. They have also applied them to many more countries, including India, China, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Latin America. The Appendix is taken from MacNulty & Woodall: Strategy with Passion: A Leader’s Guide to Exploiting the Future, August 2016

[2] Chris Rose, What Makes People Tick, Matador, UK, 2011.

[3]      Maslow, Abraham, Motivation and Personality, Harper Row, NY 1954, 1987, pp15-45.

[4]      Schwartz, Shalom; Melech, Gila; Lehmann, Arielle; Burgess, Steven; Harris, Mari; Owens, Vicki, “Extending the Cross-Cultural Validity of the Theory of Basic Human Values with a Different Method of Measurement,” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 2001 Sep Vol 32(5).

[5]      Hofstede, Geert, Cultures and Organizations, McGraw-Hill International (UK) 1991.

[6]      Ronald Inglehart, Modernization and Postmodernization, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1997.

Christine MacNulty
Christine MacNulty
CHRISTINE MacNulty has forty years’ experience as a consultant in long-term strategic -planning for concepts as well as organizations, futures studies, foresight, and technology forecasting, technology assessment and related areas, as well as socio-cultural change. For the last twenty years, most of her consultancy has been conducted for the Department of Defense and the Services, NATO ACT, NATO NEC, the British Army’s Force Development & Training Command, and the German BBK. Prior to that her work was in the commercial arena where she had Fortune Global 500 clients. During the last thirty-five years Christine MacNulty has contributed methods and models for understanding social and cultural change through people’s values. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in 1989. She is the coauthor of two books: Industrial Applications of Technology Forecasting, Wiley, 1971 and Strategy with Passion – A Leader’s Guide to Exploiting the Future, August 2016. Her paper: “Method for minimizing the negative consequences of nth order effects in strategic communication actions and inactions” was published in NATO Defence Strategic Communications Journal, p 99, Winter 2015. Two monographs “Truth, Perception & Consequences” (2007) and “Transformation: From the Outside In or the Inside Out” (2008) were published by the Army War College. Perceptions, Values & Motivations in Cyberspace appeared in the IO Journal, 3rd Quarter, 2009, and The Value of Values for IO, SC & Intel was published in the August 2010 edition of the IO Journal.


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Carol Bleyle
Carol Bleyle

Hi Christine. What a great way to look at segmentation. You’ve nailed something that I’ve realized about our own customers. The people who buy from us share more than just demographics in common, but also key values that drive them to accomplish specific goals. Thanks for a terrific article!



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