geoTribes Motivations – Why Your Customers Do The Things They Do

Append values-based motivations to customer records in your analytics server, CRM system or marketing cloud and really get to know your customers.

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Nowadays, we know a lot about what our customers do with us, where they do it and what it’s worth, but rarely do we fully understand why they do the things they do. Why do they set particular goals for themselves and why do they decide to pursue those goals in a particular way? Knowing this would help us to build better propositions for different customer segments and communicate in a more subtle and effective way, especially when it’s directly appended to customer records in our analytics server, CRM system or marketing cloud.

Human Values provide a foundational framework for understanding the psychological forces that guide the goal setting and decision making of individuals and key consumer segments, but what are Human Values?

Human Values Background

Human Values are a key component of the deeply submerged area of the mind that acts as the self-regulating core, directing tendency or organizing center of our psychological make-up, often referred to as the ‘Self’.  

Values are context-free universals that are linked most directly to actions rather than intellectual processes and operate broadly across all significant aspects of our lives as individuals and as part of consumer groups. Their operation is directed towards the future situations that we are constantly projecting our lives into, under the influence of our personal circumstances, cultural history, resources and situational contexts.

Human Values provide criteria against which we evaluate our future goals, alternative paths and decisions, in a largely unconscious process. For each individual or group, particular values vary in their importance as guiding principles and according to values expert Shalom Schwartz operate as a hierarchically ordered system of priorities based on a framework of 10 basic values organized within two dimensions, being Self Enhancement vs Self-Transcendence and Openness to Change vs Conservation, as follows:

Under the unconscious governance of their values-based, self-regulating core, individuals create goals and pursue directions that may be subsequently achieved leading to personal growth, new goals and the possibility of personal transcendence. However, non-achievement of values-directed goals results in anxiety, resignation, the creation of alternate realities and possibly the vague hope of divine intervention.

While Values play a significant part in defining who we are as individuals, they also have a comparable effect in others who have similar values hierarchies, leading them to set similar future goals, pursue similar paths and engage in similar behaviours. In fact, we form groups with others who share common patterns of values to our own and a similar ordering of priorities and along with this we also share similar language, symbols, material achievements, lifestyles and associations. 

Whilst often portrayed from a cross-sectional perspective, Values are in fact dynamic and it is through the resolution of contradictions between competing values priorities in the minds of individuals as they traverse the arc of their lives that they evolve as individuals and along with this drive the evolution of the entire cultural Zeitgeist (or defining spirit of a particular time in history). 

Measuring Human Values 

Schwartz’s 10-level Values scheme or its more recent 19-level refinement is often used as the basis for contemporary approaches to values assessment in market research, while in Australia the Values Project run by the University of Western Australia and commercial market research firm Pureprofile is based on a modification of the original 10-Level Schwartz System.

There are a number of methods for eliciting values profiles based on the Schwartz scheme through survey research. Originally, respondents were asked to rate the importance of a number of values concepts as a guiding principle in their lives. This however, proved to be too abstract particularly for the young and less experienced or those with lower levels of literacy. It was replaced by the PVQ method which assesses degrees of association between a respondent and a type of person who displays particular values-driven characteristics. These processes tend to reflect the need to standardize values definitions in cross-cultural comparisons.

Because Human Values are part of an underlying, self-regulating core that’s ‘hidden’ from survey respondents, it seems unrealistic to directly ask them what their values are. Whilst we may get glimpses ex-post as they reflect on why we made particular choices, analytically, we cannot penetrate to the ‘real’ depth of their motivations.

Another approach, favoured by RDA, deduces the composition of underlying values constructs and the orientation of respondents towards them by collecting and analysing a broad range of the external measures that correlate with underlying values, such as attitudinal statements, future outlook, sustainability actions, lifestyles and buying intentions. For many older respondents, values have become so ingrained that they are not really consciously accessed anymore and these external measures, particularly behavioural ones represent the best way to capture a picture of the underlying values at work.

In late 2021 and early 2022, RDA ran its geoTribes Human Motivations and Sustainability Survey in Australia (n=6,000) and the USA (n=8,000). The surveys primarily collected measures relating to Human Values based on the Schwartz PVQ item list and the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) framework – a guide to sustainable living. The questionnaire was developed through many pilot-scale iterations.

After collecting the data, factor analysis was used to elicit the underlying values constructs from among the attitudinal and other measures, and the values constructs were extrapolated, summarised and smoothed using a proprietary RDA process prior to loading into our data enhancement portals. As can be seen below, the values constructs neatly load into the two Schwartz dimensions of Self Enhancement vs Self-Transcendence and Openness to Change vs Conservation:

We see the two big advantages of this approach as being that:

  1. Respondents are able to respond to “straight-forward” measures that encapsulate particular values constructs, without needing an understanding of how the constructs are defined.
  2. The values constructs are derived analytically from detailed responses in a way that’s sensitive to cultural differences and described in sufficient detail to yield a deep understanding of their complexities at a level that supports ideation, strategic planning, engagement and targeting.

For example, the definition of ‘Environmental Concern’ in Australia is richly multi-layered and includes attitudes, intentions and buying behaviour

Appending Values to Customer Databases

We’ve called our values system geoTribes Motivations and made it available through our Explorer Market Planning Solution and also through our: 

  1. Quick Append – Customer Insights Portal for running database profile reports, appending to small databases and running proof of concept jobs.
  2. Living Insights – Data Enhancement Portal for appending to large scale databases through WEB, SFTP and API interfaces.

Here is a map of ‘Environmental Concern’ for Sydney – Notice the emphasis on affluent and urban areas.

Here is a gendered profile for ‘Sustainability Actions’ across geoTribes Segments – Notice the high loading on older female segments.

Here is a geoTribes Motivations profile for ‘Electric Vehicle Purchase Intenders’ – Notice all the motivations that are ranked higher than ‘Environmental Concern’.

Here is a Personal Attitudes profile for ‘Electric Vehicle Purchase Intenders’ – Notice the emphasis on status, leadership and achievement and the relatively low significance of attitudes relating to sustainability.

These are just examples, but the possibilities are endless!

If you have any questions about the appending geoTribes Motivations to customer records in your analytics server, CRM system or marketing cloud or enhancing your first-party data more generally, contact the friendly RDA Technical Team on +61 2 8923 6600 or send an email to