Customer Segmentation and Audience Targeting With DISC


Customer segmentation and audience targeting are among the preliminary actions in the advancement of a marketing plan. A central perception of consumer behavior therefore is requisite and necessary for establishing a baseline of ideal candidates. Yet individuals are driven by unique priorities, and thus traditional methods of gaining insight tend to be subjective in nature. Categorization of consumers is often based on anecdotal evidence, yet the application of a scientific approach is more objective, and thus may offer a more effective line of affect.


Kurt Lewin, a psychologist known for his pioneering innovations in social, organizational and applied psychology in the former part of the twentieth century, experimented with systems of behavioral partitioning, and established Lewin’s equation:

B equals the function of P & E

Where B is behavior, P is person and E is environment. Behavior as a function of the individual’s interaction with their surroundings is derived from Lewin’s field theory, which states that environment can be experienced differently for varied conditions, even for the same person, depending on the psychological profile.

Dominance Influencing Steadiness Compliance/Conscientious

Lewin went further to evolve the DISC personality assessment, which divides personalities into four motivating drivers: dominance, influencing, steadiness and compliance/conscientious. Broken down into simpler terms, these are:

  • Dominance – focused on assignment, driven by a need to get things accomplished, concerned with the bottom line.
  • Influencing – concerned with social status, enthusiastic, wants to be popular and accepted.
  • Steadiness – caring about the welfare of others, allegiance and protection are priorities, takes time in execution of tasks and decisions.
  • Compliance/Conscientious – focused on specifics and requirements, demands data, slow to decide.

While these behavior portrayals are often displayed in a four quadrant diagram as pictured above, a linear display may be more useful in describing how these personality types approach the buying decision.

Dominance Influencing Steadiness Compliance/Conscientious

Moving in a direction from left to right determines how quickly a decision may be reached, from faster to slower. While there is certainly no guarantee in every case, by and large this hypothesis can be relied upon in a majority of instances. Moving from right to left governs the amount of informational data that will be typically required from the buyer much of the time to reach a decision, with the tendency trending from more to less. Prospective customers in the middle will classically prioritize benefit for others, while personal benefit may be more attractive to those on either end.

Factors in buying decisions generally evolve around electronic word of mouth (eWOM), with importance of focus on dimensions of volume, channels used and credibility. Peer referrals are favored over those sponsored by the brand, and hosting sites for these statistics can be found through search engines by entering the product or service name and the term “review”. Including these elements as part of an integrated marketing communications strategy can be effective in the formation of proper customer segmentation and the derivation of a carefully targeted audience.


Developing customer assessment procedures for promotion of marketplace offerings can lend an augmentation to the early founding of a well-established marketing plan, one which can be assistive in the development of marketing tactics finely tuned to individual prospective clientele and based soundly on scientific principles.

How do you currently categorize potential customers? Are you using behavioral assessment in your customer segmentation and audience targeting efforts? Have these proven successful in an amplified marketing ROI? Please share any thoughts you might have in the comments below, and feel free to join the discussion.

Follow Grannelle on Twitter for daily updates on relevant matters to commerce both online and off. And join us next week as we once again investigate the latest and most up-to-date, academically viable methods and practices from the world of professional social media and Web 2.0!

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About Grannelle

eMarketing Scholar
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