Summarized by Sam Mishra, MBA (MIT Sloan)
VALS 2 (values and lifestyles), developed by the Stanford Research Institute, attempts to profile customers by grouping them into three orientation categories: principle oriented, status oriented, and action oriented; and splitting these categories again according to the resources people have at their disposal. For example, in the following figure, the segments on top have abundant resources, and as you move down from actualizers to strugglers, the resources progressively diminish.
The above is a psychographic segmentation of American consumers. If you are crafting business / marketing strategy for consumer oriented firms, the above framework can be used to segment the consumer market as a prelude to targeting and positioning. Please also listen to the complementary podcast, where the podcaster (Sam Mishra) maps the rise of Apple's CEO Steve Jobs to some of the above VALS-2 segments.
Also see STP marketing.