Not everyone is thrilled with this outcome, but mounting evidence suggests that marketers of all stripes may be well advised to incorporate a little astrology into their strategic action plans.
Research astrologer Courtney Roberts, MA, says a series of papers dealing with the use of tropical astrological signs and elements in market segmentation studies have turned some heads. It all started in 1995, when Vincent–Wayne Mitchell of the University of Manchester’s Institute of Science and Technology presented his initial arguments in a paper he titled “The Stability of Astrology as a Segmentation Variable.”
Roberts describes what resistance to Mitchell’s measurable results has looked like.
“The usual dismissive complaints were not long in coming. As one critic put it, at first sight this appears to be an amusing suggestion, perhaps heralding a paradigm shift in marketing, which might also involve the examination of goat livers in forecasting, or the observation of the pecking of sacred chickens before sending out the sales force,” she said.
Stiff Upper Lip
Apparently, Mitchell wasn’t fazed. With research associate Sarah Taggett he followed with another successful study in 1997. Using the British General Household Survey as their data source, the pair found that astrology has a significant, and sometimes predictable, effect on purchasing behavior in the leisure, tobacco and drinks markets.
Roberts is President of Canaveral Research and organizer of the Kepler Conference on astrological research, which is scheduled January 24 – 27 2019 in Cocoa Beach, Fla. She says still another study using a different household survey replicated earlier results.
In a third paper published in 1998 Mitchell began his report with this opening salvo: ‘’Date of birth potentially combines the measurement advantages of demographics with the psychological insights of psychographics when interpreted through an astrological framework.”
Once again, the researcher found that buying behavior within the same target markets (leisure, tobacco and alcohol) varied according to the date of birth of study participants.
Roberts says a 2000 paper by Kwak, et al, describes how tropical (western) astrological signs and elements influence consumer behavior. The authors designed and administered survey questions to 239 college students, seeking to measure impulsive and compulsive buying patterns as well as the students’ overall evaluations of products and services.
In traditional astrology the fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) and air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) signs are considered to be masculine. Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) and earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) are the feminine signs.
“The Kwak study indicated that the masculine signs are more inclined to impulse buying while the feminine signs are not. Also, the researchers couldn’t find any significant zodiacal differences in the students’ rating of product quality but did find that water signs tend to rate customer service higher than non-water signs,” Roberts said.
In 2011, another paper on young people’s shopping habits reported similar findings. The authors, Mustafa, G., et al, surveyed 445 young consumers with a range of questions intended to draw them out on buying preferences and habits. These researchers also found that fire signs made more instant and impulsive buying decisions while water signs were more reticent.
The date of birth does have an effect on consumer buying patterns, Mustafa concluded.
More recently, a 2015 paper on women’s buying behavior at Portugal’s Center for the Study of Public and Social Economy reported findings from a face-to-face survey of 400 participants. This study, by authors Mehmet and Kubilay, compared women’s Sun and rising signs by astrological element.
The rising sign is the astrological sign rising on the eastern horizon at the time of birth. The Mehmet and Kubilay study found that the astrological elements can influence where women prefer to shop and which items they are more likely to buy.
Roberts believes that astrological research into consumer buying patterns is especially promising.
“Research related academic arguments can drag on indefinitely, especially when either side has so much to lose. Markets, on the other hand, are quicker to recognize useful information when there’s any chance of improving the bottom line,” she said.