(FORTUNE Magazine) – When every month you are trying to sell 500 exotic sports cars that cost between $40,000 and $82,000 apiece, you have to really know your customers. Porsche Cars North America hired a team of anthropologists to find out who its owners were and how Porsche could better sell to them. The demographics of the Porsche owner are utterly predictable: a 40-something male college graduate earning over $200,000 per year. The psychographics, however, were of more interest. Porsche owners were categorized into five rather unusual-and not necessarily all that flattering-personality types (see box).

Richard Ford, Porsche's vice president of sales and marketing, found the results astonishing. Said he: "We were selling to people whose profiles were diametrically opposed. You wouldn't want to tell an elitist how good he looks in the car or how fast he could go."

Besides refining its marketing as a result of the study, Porsche has cut its prices, launched a new ad campaign, and introduced a successful redesign of its classic rear-engine coupe, the 911. (See photo for the hot new 1995 Cabriolet version-a $72,400 trophy.) After a seven-year slump, Porsche's U.S. sales rose 48% in 1994, as of the end of November.

- Alex Taylor III