CI Dictionary

Consumer Insight Glossary

Consumer insight research has a jargon all its own.  Words can be applied in misleading ways, and not always with clarity and consistency. 

Blurring audience definitions, for instance , or mixing attitudes with behavior and demographics – the three  are quite different things – can cause serious problems for the validity of the results .

Pi therefore offers this  glossary, or “Dictionary of Terms”, to help avoid potential mix-ups.


Glossary Of  Consumer Insight Terms



Attitudes are conscious mental reactions to events, ideas or any aspect of change. More transient than values (qv), attitudes should NOT be confused with feelings, emotions or appetites, (i.e. love, desire, hate, fear etc.), which are not really attitudes at all. Attitudes may change with circumstance, lifestage or situation, but are less volatile and changeable than emotions.


The negative equivalent of motivation (qv).


What people actually do, whether habitually, randomly, or in response to a given situation. Example: “I pay cash when I go to the grocery store”. Not necessarily linked to attitude; it is perfectly possible to hold an opinion but not act on it. Example: someone who professes to be against the principle of genetically modified foods, but in reality eats them frequently.


Deep-rooted articles of faith, often inspired by traditions, religious feelings or affiliations, and typically inherited from foregoing generations or from one's social group.


A broad definition would be “the intellectual side of civilization”. Culture is the accretion of all the knowledge, beliefs, values and societal instincts shared by the members of a society, or section of a society. Elements of culture can include collective values, traditions, social structures, societal norms and conventions, customs, aesthetics, history, folklore and institutions.


The statistics of a given population such as age, sex, education, income and affluence, and other information concerning socioeconomic characteristics. Demographics also focus on elements in the consumer's environment, such as geographic location, housing type, marital and family circumstances, and employment status.


A factor tending to curb a person’s desire or intention to take a given action, often -- but not always -- consciously acknowledged by the person concerned.


A simultaneous agglomeration of demographic realities which can lead to transient mindsets and behavior patterns. Examples: changed marital status, first parenthood, onset of teenage children, ‘empty-nesters’, retirement.


How people choose to live their lives and interact with those around them. By common convention, a man drinking beer and watching football matches is exhibiting 'behavior', whereas a man drinking champagne and sailing at weekends has a 'lifestyle'. The term Lifestyle is too often -- quite wrongly -- considered interchangeable with words like ‘values’ or ‘attitudes’.


A systematic -- or random -- amalgamation of values, attitudes, motivations and/or aversions which collectively govern a specific field of behavior. Examples: “green” concern for the environment, success-seeking, conspicuous consumption, fashion-consciousness, antipathy towards foreigners or particular ethnic or social groups, brand-loyalty etc.

Mood State

A momentary, transient state of mind, often caused by day-to-day events, tasks to be undertaken, degrees of physical well-being, or momentary changes in company or location. Example: “After a tough day I drink a whisky and it puts me in a relaxed mood”.


An impulse or causation that will lead someone towards a given action, whether based on self-interest, logic, appetite, aversion, or whatever. Motivations can be conscious or sub-conscious.


A term first widely applied since about 40 years ago to indicate the psychology of attitude. A way of classifying people in ways that go beyond their demographics, circumstances, appetites and conscious motivations. Psychographics profiles consumers in order to identify personality characteristics that affect a person's attitudes, lifestyle and purchasing behavior.


The fundamental tenets and convictions by which any given group of people live their lives. These can include moral and spiritual convictions, work ethic, commitment to life goals and opportunity, and attitude to change. “Values” are typically what people consciously seek to pass on to their children. They are slow to change, and tend to do so only in step with gradual shifts in society and culture.