Abstract: Massaging the Mass: Psychographic Market Segmentation in Postwar America

Joseph Malherek


This paper analyzes the the influential theory on product personality and design, consumer motivation, and psychographic market segmentation produced by market and motivational researchers Pierre Martineau, Ernest Dichter, and Leo Bogart in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the practical application of corporate and brand identity theory in the image programs of Walter Landor, an industrial designer who developed some of the most iconic package designs and corporate images of the twentieth century. The success of Landor's designs, supported by the consumer research conducted by his in-house companies, realized the theory of market researchers. The practice of differentiating products through brand image to create designs that appealed to the basic desires of psychographic market segments was more effective in motivating consumer desire than the practice of physically differentiating product qualities. This basic concern for the consumer's motivations—which often rested on unconscious, irrational desires—led to marketing appeals directed toward consumers defined in psychographic categories, which often transcended the demographic categories of age, sex, race, and class. I argue that the special knowledge of market researchers and industrial designers, combined with their skill in creative symbolism and acuity in communication, enabled them to influence consumer subjectivity and direct desire through psychographic marketing.