Psychographics 101: Everything You Need to Know; How It’s Used in Marketing
Marketing can be a tricky game to master.
In a survey compiled in 2019 by equity research firm Redburn and PwC, it was estimated that the marketing sector is now worth $1.7 trillion worldwide.
Consumers are perpetually bombarded with advertisements demanding their attention. From emails to billboards to social media, constant noise from an infinite number of brands is leaving marketers in a bit of a pickle.
Demographic marketing is not enough to truly reach your ideal consumers. Broad strokes no longer work the way they used to, and now it’s all about the specifics.
This is why you need psychographics.
Consider demographics as black and white outlines in a painting, and psychographics as the color.
You can see the image just fine with only the outlines in place, but to truly understand the narrative of the painting, you need full technicolor.
Psychographics is a crucial element of brand building. Increasing sales, garnering a reputation, amassing a loyal following, utilizing the correct organic channels; all of this comes down to leveraging your psychographic data correctly.
Positioning yourself with respect to this data not only gives you a clear direction, but it also saves you money and time.
If you’re looking for a way to cut through the noise of the market, acquire new clients in an efficient and cost-friendly way, you need to start working with psychographics.
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Demographic vs Psychographic
Demographics are great for starting broad.
Demographics is useful for segmenting and identifying the measurable traits of your target audience. It is essentially static data that helps you to define “who” your ideal customer is. It covers information such as age, gender, income, where they live, marital status, and so on.
By narrowing your audience down into segments, you can better spend your time understanding the prospective market and crafting targeted advertising.
As useful as demographic measuring is, it does leave a lot to be desired in the way of accuracy.
Let’s say you are planning to open a new eco-friendly cafe. The food and beverages are on the more expensive side, but the containers are all bio-degradable and the food is sustainably-sourced.
Using demographics to target your audience may be a little tricky; do you target those in a higher-income bracket who can afford to pay more for food? Should you market towards college students who are eco-warriors? Social media, or word-of-mouth?
Psychographics instead seeks to analyze your customer’s interests and hobbies, their lifestyle, and how they enjoy spending their time. It covers their characteristics, values, and beliefs. When it comes to data, psychographics represents the qualitative side of understanding individuals.
This is why psychographics is essential in successful marketing. It explains “why” your customer buys.
The most efficient way to create an accurate buyer persona is to combine both the demographic and psychographic information together in order to understand what makes your target customers buy.
By combining both sets of data, you can garner a detailed picture of potential customers within the market, and those that may have interest in what you have to say but haven’t yet discovered your brand.
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5 Examples of Psychographic Characteristics
So, we know how to segment demographically (age, location, income, etc.) but how do you categorize characteristics? There’s a number of ways to do this, but below are the most common verticals:
A very basic way of categorizing your potential customer’s personality is the “Big Five Personality Traits” theory.
The Big Five doesn’t explain all human behavior, you would want to look to centuries of psychology for that, but it’s a good way to roughly summarize the behavior of others.
The theory identifies five factors:
- Openness to experience – inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious
- Conscientiousness – efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless
- Extraversion – outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved
- Agreeableness – friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/callous
- Neuroticism – sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident
You don’t need to memorize the above or enroll in a psychology course to understand psychographics, although if you find it fascinating we are thrilled you’re curious about the world and always encourage education.
The Big Five is a great method to return to when you’re collecting psychographic data and looking to assess who your target customer could be.
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Lifestyle summarizes your customer’s everyday life. This includes things such as where they live, whether or not they have children, whether they are in a relationship or not, and if they’re someone who lives to work vs. someone who works to live.
You can make an educated guess of someone’s lifestyle by identifying key behaviors and working backward.
For example, someone may prefer the 6 a.m. yoga class over the 6 p.m. class. Is this because they prefer to begin their day with yoga, or is it because they are time-poor in the evenings? Do they want to finish yoga before their children wake up? Do they go to 6 a.m. yoga on the weekend, or do they like to sleep in after Friday-night drinks?
These behaviors and decisions are made with respect to someone’s lifestyle. Unraveling someone’s behavior can help you make an educated assessment of what their lifestyle could be.
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Interests are crucial for finding your audience or your tribe. Hobbies, how they spend their free time, who they follow on social media, podcasts, books, Netflix, whether or not they enjoy thumbing through trash magazines in the supermarket queue; these are all examples of interests, and they are all unique to each individual.
There is no limit to how many interests someone can have, but the energy they invest in those interests is limited. Someone may follow hundreds of fashion bloggers on Instagram but they have no interest in dedicating time to become a designer, they just like looking at clothes.
People have interests that may completely conflict with their demographic categorization. A 19-year old college student may be a fan of playing Bingo, and a 60-year old retiree may have a fondness for playing Pokémon-GO. Interests dictate what consumers purchase, and identifying these interests help you to target and market.
4. Opinions, attitudes, and beliefs
A customer’s beliefs, their attitude towards topics, and their religion all play a part in their decision making. These factors are usually individually assessed, but to keep it simple we can group them together as they all correlate in some way or another. Some religions prohibit specific kinds of food or alcohol, and people will inevitably have contrasting attitudes towards modesty and social etiquette.
Someone’s values describe their sense of right and wrong. Some value eco-friendly products over cost, others may value family time over nightlife.
Even consumer’s dietary habits trickle down into their purchasing choices, such as staunch vegans rejecting brands that are not PETA-approved or cruelty-free.
How to Find Psychographic Data for Marketing
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is brilliant for analyzing data. It’s free, it’s incredibly detailed, and it updates in real-time which is a real treat. To access this data, click Audience > Interests > Overview.
Not only does it have a detailed analysis of your audience demographics, but you also have the option to refine further to see psychographics. For example, it’s possible to see the difference in data between paying customers and non-paying customers.
Focus groups are a more hands-on approach to understanding your audience through a psychographic lens.
A small focus group can help to assess what common trait is shared amongst those loyal to the brand and help you build your buying persona. Although focus groups can be lengthy and costly, they do give you the chance to ask follow-up questions and interact with your consumers.
Remember to direct the conversation, not dominate the conversation, and be mindful of anyone whose voice isn’t being heard amongst the conversation. Encourage participants to ask each other for their opinions, and make sure that you create a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable voicing their thoughts.
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At Foundr, we believe that customer interviews are one of the best things you can do for your marketing strategy and essentially, for your business.
Customer interviews are just that: interviewing your customers and asking them their thoughts about your business, product, and service. Interviews are cost-free to conduct, and allow you to gather data straight from the horse’s mouth, aka. your customer.
Above all, it builds a stronger relationship with your customers (especially if you’re a smaller business). It will also give you the chance to garner feedback in real-time.
The most effective way to conduct customer interviews is by taking the correct approach and asking the right questions.
Just speaking to five customers will do more for your marketing than anything else.
Interview via phone or schedule a Zoom or Skype meeting. People tend to be more relaxed and forthcoming when they’re in their own environment and not face-to-face.
Some example questions:
- How did you find out about our brand?
- What part of our brand was most appealing to you (cost, brand values, aesthetics, etc.)?
- What made you decide to purchase that product in particular?
- What made you switch to us?
Keep things conversational and relaxed. It’s a chance to listen to what they think of your brand rather than an interrogation.
The insights and relationships you will build are invaluable.
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Surveys and questionnaires are relatively inexpensive to launch and can be highly useful for gaining an understanding of your market. They allow you to gather information from a larger sample size, and thanks to platforms like Typeform and SurveyMonkey they can be conducted quickly and for free.
Incorporate psychographic-driven questions into the survey. The key to questionnaires and surveys is to keep them as convenient and simple as possible. Stick to “yes” or “no” type questions, keep the questions to a minimum, and consider adding an incentive like a discount code to encourage others to participate.
Bear in mind that some results may be a little inaccurate, some cheeky customers may randomly answer in pursuit of a good discount code, so make sure to use the results as a general psychographic guide rather than law.
Market research businesses
While this may not be viable for companies with minimal budgets or those just starting out, hiring a market research business can pay off if you’re willing to make the investment. These research companies can provide you with an in-depth market analysis and a well-defined buying persona, and also allows you free time to focus on other pursuits. Weigh up the costs against the benefits to ensure that it’s a good investment first, and then look into hiring.
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Using Psychographics in Your Marketing
When combined with demographics, psychographics enables you to get a clearer picture of why your customer is buying. But how can you introduce this data into your marketing strategy and execute it in real-time?
1. Create customer personas
Psychographics allows you to garner a deeper understanding of your customer and how you can attract their attention.
Gathering all this data together allows you to visualize exactly who they are through a buying or customer persona. Most likely you already have your avatar in mind, but let’s see what happens when we take a demographically created persona and mix it with psychographics:
Here is a basic buying persona:
- 35-65 years old
- United States
- Annual Household Income more than $100,000
- No existing medical conditions
Using psychographics, let’s have a closer look at our customer:
- Incredibly organized and efficient
- Highly extroverted and social
- Deeply involved in his children’s school committee
- Time-poor for recreational endeavors
- Enjoys podcasts: Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
- Enjoys reading historical non-fiction
- Values family-time
See the difference? When you combine the two, you can create an extremely comprehensive customer persona that really puts things into perspective. Not only do you know who your customers are, you now know what motivates them to buy.
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2. Customer segmentation
Creating your customer persona may bring to light something that you didn’t previously realize: the types of customers that love your brand are more diverse than you think.
Your company may find that the customers buying your custom knitting needles are sweet old grandma’s looking to knit socks for their grandchildren, and burly fishermen looking to repair their fishing nets at sea. What appeals to a doting grandparent may be completely polar to a fishing fleet.
How do you tailor your marketing strategy in such a way to merge two contrasting customers’ needs into one?
The answer: you don’t.
If you find that you have two completely contrasting customer groups, it may warrant creating alternate approaches.
A study conducted by MailChimp measured that segmented campaigns performed markedly better than their non-segmented peers.
Campaigns that were segmented showed 14.31 percent higher than non-segmented campaigns, and interestingly when these segmentations were crafted to suit “Interests”, unsubscriptions were a whopping 25.65 percent lower than non-segmented campaigns.
Your company may have two dual campaigns to suit the two knitting markets. One campaign may focus on family values, bright colors, and appear in local newspapers, while the other campaign may focus on the sturdiness of your equipment and different needles sizes.
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3. Social media marketing
Psychographics may help you to determine which platforms your ideal audience is most active on. Have you found a correlation between young professionals and Pinterest? Are you noticing that your Instagram ads for your lawn-mowing business don’t seem to be getting you any new clients?
Social media platforms now have built-in analytics that allow you to access insights into your followers and their behavior. You can gain an understanding of your core audience’s preferred platform.
For example, if you are launching a quirky t-shirt company, your core audience may be high-school students who have an interest in trending memes. Analyzing your social media presence may reveal that your demographic and psychographic audience is interacting most with Instagram Stories rather than Facebook.
You can also use social media to directly target shared interests amongst users.
For Twitter, head to Twitter > Twitter Ads > Analytics > Audience Insights. You will be able to see your demographics, as well as your psychographics such as your audience’s interests and followers.
For Facebook, you will need to have a business page. Click Business Manager > Insights > People to see a breakdown of your fans. You can filter and segment the data to learn more about who is interested in your brand.
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Identify New Forms of Content/Identify New Content Topic Areas
Analyzing the quirks and characteristics of your customers may open a window of opportunity for you with new content. The psychographic data that you’ve gathered is a rough blueprint for the directions your business could undertake.
For example, many users of your fitness app are also very interested in nutrition and new recipes. By launching a collaboration with a local nutritionist and creating meal plans for users of your app, you not only boost your existing customers’ love for what you do, but you also tap into an entirely new market with nutrition.
Travel and adventure apparel company Kathmandu has a unique example of this with the launch of the “world’s first adaptable all-weather wedding dress”. Their target market of recreational and experienced adventurers would also include those looking to get married in a unique style. Why not throw brand-awareness of sustainability into the mix to appeal to those invested in the environment?
Create More Targeted, Relevant Email Marketing Blasts
The power in psychographics is that it not only gives you an idea of who your customer is, it also tells you how they’re feeling and what they want. This gives you the ability to create highly relevant and specifically targeted email blasts that appeal to their questions, concerns, interests, and values.
Email marketing allows you to be more fluid in your marketing campaigns. You can promote current trends or upcoming events, reinforce your company values and beliefs, and notify customers of relevant changes in the business.
The best way to improve your email open rates is by crafting highly personalized emails, and leveraging your psychographic data is the way to boost this even further.
If you notice a common trend amongst your customers for vegan leather and cruelty-free fashion, email out promotions for your new vegan leather handbag range. If psychographic data tells you that most of your customers are going to a music festival, blast your mailing list with your high-energy snacks to keep them dancing all day.
Running-shoe brand Brooks shows this in their recent email by targeting and acknowledging the struggle faced by many when exercising in the cold weather and used the opportunity to push their cold-weather gear.
Improve Your Conversion Pathways
Uncovering and understanding why customers are dropping off at a certain landing page can be gleaned from your psychographic data. The more you understand about your target market, the more you can guess why the most vulnerable points of your sales funnel aren’t working.
Do they drop off at a certain point in their journey because your copy isn’t the right message? Maybe you’ve miscalculated how much value they place on contactless delivery and biodegradable packaging and you’re losing them at the closing stage?
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Focus on Their Emotions
It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Marketing and advertising are all about a hook, a sell, something that grabs the audience’s attention in just the right way to make them say “yes”.
You probably already know that the language used in your copy is key to a successful ad, but did you know that taking into account both your demographic and psychographic audience can mean the difference between failing and succeeding?
Depending on your psychographic, different words will hit differently.
Psychographics will help you to hone in on what your customers care about, giving you the ability to play to that.
Understanding your customer is the key to success in business. Merging both demographic and psychographic data together will not only give you a more cohesive understanding of who you are selling to, but it also allows you to reassess and reflect on your business as a whole.
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Start broad with demographics, and then begin honing in using psychographics. Understand why your customer would be looking for your brand, why they would need your service or product in their lives, and why they would choose your business over everyone else’s.
Creating a marketing niche is all about first understanding where your niche is. Use psychographics to find the why, and watch your business become an empire.
Uncovered some interesting data using psychographic analysis? We’d love to hear it! Tell us in the comments below!