Announcing a New Study of Identity

October 18, 2023

Smarty Pants research consultancy announced today the release of its Me, Myself & Identity Project – an in-depth exploration of self-perception and identity. The initiative builds on Smarty Pants’ 18-year history of studying consumers across geography, culture, lifestage and lifestyle.

The Me, Myself & Identity Project aims to provide marketers with a deeper understanding of how people truly see themselves. Smarty Pants also seeks to create more authentic frameworks for the creation of consumer cohorts to guide product and content development and marketing decisions.

“As media has become infinitely fragmented and traditional demographic models for reaching targets have become obsolete, algorithmic solutions for connecting with audiences have risen to take their place – based primarily on digital behaviors like click-throughs and purchase patterns. In many ways, connecting with humans has evolved – or devolved – to bypass the complexities of what makes us human. This initiative refocuses us on what matters most – how people think of and identify themselves,” states Smarty Pants president Wynne Tyree.

The multi-phase and mixed-method inquiry launched in the U.S. with an online study of 1,300 people who answered one open-ended question: “Who are you, as a person?” Particicipants – ranging from 6 to 80 years old and representative of U.S. region, race and ethnicity, gender, income, education, and household composition – provided more than 26,000 words to this “simple” query. Each response was analyzed and hand-coded by a multidisciplinary team of Smarty Pants research professionals. Lead anthropologist Elizabeth Aparicio comments, “We began our data analysis without assumptions and developed code frames derived from the 1,300 verbatims. It has been a massive undertaking but the right decision to elucidate the granularity and human insight we set out to uncover.”

Study results expose fascinating new truths about identity and provide rich insight into psychographic, demographic, economic and lifestyle dimensions of self. Early findings reveal 12 core dimensions of identity which vary most dramatically by lifestage. The study also debunks many mainstream myths related to identity and points to new frameworks for segmentation and targeting.

Those interested in preliminary study findings or staying abreast of the Me, Myself & Identity Project can learn more and sign up for updates at asksmartypants.com/identity.