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Psychographic Segmentation: The Variables Involved to Get to Know Your Audience Better

by Stephanie Mialki in Marketing Personalization Psychographic segmentation - featured image

It’s no secret that user segmentation is an absolute must-have for targeting, engaging, and converting prospects and leads. While demographic, geographic, and behavioral segmentation understands individuals as consumers, psychographic segmentation takes it a step further and focuses on who they are as people.

What is psychographic segmentation?

Psychographic segmentation is a marketing research approach that categorizes consumers into groups based on psychological factors influencing their buying behavior, personality, values, beliefs, lifestyle, attitudes, interests, activities, and social class. Simply put, using psychographic segmentation, you can learn not only who your buyers are but how they think and what drives their lives.

Why is psychographic segmentation important

Psychographically segmenting your audience, when combined with demographic and other data, allows you to know more about your audience and helps marketers:

  1. Understand customer motivation. Identifying people’s life patterns allows you to get inside the minds of your target market. It helps you to not only better understand their needs and wishes but also know their motivations for choosing specific products and tailor your messaging accordingly.
  2. Personalize marketing communications. Today, customers expect a personalized experience from brands. By leveraging psychographic segmentation, you can deliver targeted and personalized marketing campaigns that speak directly to your audience’s individual needs and desires.
  3. Improve online advertising and audience engagement. With psychographic segmentation, you can create highly targeted ads speaking directly to the values and interests of your audience so they are more likely to engage with your brand. This can include sharing your content, participating in discussions, and becoming a loyal customer base.
  4. Increase conversion rate and effective lead generation. Considering your customers’ values in life, their pain points, and why they act the way they do, you can create more effective landing pages and ads with offerings, messaging, and design aligned adequately with their psychographic traits. This brings more conversions and attracts leads that are more likely to purchase, as your messaging will resonate with them on a deeper level and compel them to take action.
  5. Gain competitive advantage and differentiation. In a marketplace crowded with generic messages, personalized communications capture attention and foster stronger relationships with the audience.

Psychographic segmentation examples

Let’s look at some ads created by companies that mastered psychographic segmentation and successfully implemented it in their campaigns.

For example, this Wild Clean ad resonates with consumers based on value—like using environmentally-friendly products to save the earth.

Meal delivery service is another good example of a psychographic-targeted ad. Such businesses should market first to those who enjoy spending time with their families since a meal delivery service will free up time. They also may target those who value their health, exercise regularly, have dietary restrictions, etc. Daily Harvest is another example of psychographic segmentation that does a great job targeting several interest segments, all of whom would likely enjoy their meal delivery service. They promote time efficiency in the description and video and then follow up with more information on healthy, nourishing food in the video.

Take a look at this ASPCA ad that speaks directly to socially conscious people willing to help everyone around while not seeking benefits for themselves:

This Intercom ad is a perfect psychographic segmentation example directed at top-middle-class members who may be interested in growing their business:

This Carnival ad speaks to several psychographic segments – people from middle to upper-top social classes as they are the only ones who could afford a cruise. It would be careless to show it to someone in either of the lower classes because there is little chance they would even consider spending their little money on a lavish vacation.

Business giants have greatly mastered psychographic segmentation art. For instance, Nike addresses their messaging to customers passionate about sports at all levels, whether they are professional athletes or just people who love to go to the gym or train outdoors in fashionable sportswear.

Psychographic segmentation variables

Several psychographic targeting variables highly correlate with a customer’s buying behavior – personality, values, lifestyle, hobbies and interests, and social class. Each of them is broken down into subcategories. Let’s take a closer look at the five psychographic segmentation variables.

1. Personality

Personality is the first factor to define one’s buying preferences. Psychographic segmentation, by this criteria, considers people’s beliefs, morals, motivations, and overall outlook on life to create a buyer’s profile. This segment may have various subgroups. Here’s how one company suggests to divide customers by personality type:

  • Belongers are the most common psychographic personality type in the US. They are more “mainstream” than people in the other categories, always wanting to fit in with their families, friends, and community. They don’t want to stand out in a crowd, feel isolated, or experience change.
  • Achievers are very ambitious, always busy, need to constantly be productive, and dislike anything they feel is a waste of time. They tend to be materialistic and purchase luxury items to symbolize their success in life.
  • Emulators want to be Achievers, but they’re either missing the skillset or work ethic to get there. Instead, they often make large purchases they can’t afford or buy knock-off products to appear successful.
  • Saviors  aim to achieve greatness for the world instead of just for themselves. They’re socially conscious people who go out of their way to help others and the world around them and rarely (if ever) ask for anything in return.
  • Doomsdayers  are the exact opposite of Saviors, seeing nothing but doom and destruction for the human race. They try to be as self-sufficient as possible and tend to have a strong opinion about almost anything.
  • Integrators  are Achievers plus Saviors. They strive to earn as much money as possible but then spend it on philanthropic efforts rather than themselves. This is the least common psychographic personality type, with only 1-2% of people fitting into this category.
  • Survivalists  struggle to earn a living wage, working paycheck to paycheck, either through their own choices or because they were raised in a poverty-stricken environment. They don’t plan purchases or spend money haphazardly because they fear losing everything.

Your company’s data might warrant creating different personality subcategories to define individual customers and implement psychographic segmentation into your advertising strategy. Either way, the point of segmenting consumers into these categories is to determine which subcategories are most likely to see value in your product or service.

2. Lifestyle

Lifestyle is the most specific insight into what someone truly values or how they spend their time and money. It comprises daily habits, like morning coffee routine, living with pets, etc. For a clear picture of this, you must analyze three dimensions of their life—activities, interests, and opinions—commonly referred to as “AIO Variables.” Activities and interests are a large psychographic segmentation group, so we’ll discuss them separately.

A person’s opinion determines whether they consider particular products useful and important. People often have strong views on religious, political, environmental, and cultural topics, which can significantly impact the products and services they buy and how they respond to your advertising messaging.

3. Hobbies and interests

Interests and hobbies are important characteristics of an individual, revealing what they like and dislike doing, what excites them, their passions in life, and, therefore, what they are willing to spend on. Sports, music, books, arts, community events, media preferences, entertainment, etc. – everyone’s interests and hobbies vary, and knowing this can bolster your marketing efforts. When researching a prospect’s interests, start broad, then narrow your focus as you begin to understand more about them.

Activities are also significant for psychographic segmentation. They cover what a person enjoys doing (and will spend money on), how often they engage in those activities, and the purchases they make based on them. For example, someone interested in playing soccer needs to purchase a soccer ball. However, depending on how much they plan to play, they might buy cleats and shinguards. They might also invest in private lessons or a local league membership if they plan to play frequently or competitively.

Two people with the same activity level might also vary in how they make purchases related to the activity. While one person might research which type and quality of cleats to buy, another might consult a peer or a specialist. The amount each person spends on different cleats could also differ.

4. Social class

Psychographic segmentation considers social hierarchy when setting targeting because of social classes’ different purchasing power. If you target the wrong group, they won’t be able or willing to purchase from you. This idea can also be applied to account-based marketing. For example, if an enterprise software company wants to reach C-suite executives, they need to segment and target higher authority employees.

Here are the most common social classes the population is divided into:

  1. The top-upper class or the richest of the rich, who likely never had to deal
  2. The bottom-upper class, who have earned their wealth, know how much effort it takes to reach their level. They buy what they want but never spend money as lavishly as the top-upper class.
  3. The top-middle-class people are in a comfortable financial situation and are focused on their career growth. They can afford “finer things in life” without spending recklessly.
  4. The bottom-middle class can provide the basics for their families (food, shelter, clothing, etc.) and occasional extras. Still, large purchases are made with careful consideration based on finances and logistics.
  5. The top-lower class consists of blue-collar workers who earn just enough money to get by – and nothing extra. These people always want to work hard and save as much as possible.
  6. The bottom-lower class consists of either underemployed or unemployed who live well below the typical standard of living. These people spend what little money they make on the bare essentials and sometimes must even forego these.

5. Values

Family upbringing and cultural background make us who we are and determine our attitude to life. The individual’s attitude to a particular event or product may affect their purchase behavior. For example, people raised in conservatism and economizing will not invest in risky projects, so targeting them for such projects is doomed to failure in conversions. Each prospective customer will have a different attitude toward the product based on their life values and background, and marketers should also consider this as a variable for psychographic segmentation.

The above patterns are not the only psychographic factors marketers should consider while working on psychographic segmentation for effective audience engagement. Consumption patterns and customers’ spending habits also make the difference. These refer to how people search for products and services, purchase, and consume them. The habit means that an individual spends the same amount of money within the same framework of conditions (for example, buying souvenirs on vacation, going out for dinner on a payday, or donating on a specific day to a particular organization). Such regular actions may come from our society, family traditions, or media.

Many of the described categories and subcategories coexist and overlap with one another. Successful psychographic segmentation provides an ideal customer profile based on the combination of various variables. Let’s see how to make a target audience investigation.

Research methods for psychographic segmentation

Businesses require in-depth, quality data about their target audience to conduct psychographic segmentation. Here are some of the most commonly used research methods in psychographic segmentation:

  1. Surveys and questionnaires. These straightforward tools help gather information about customers’ preferences, opinions, and values. Surveys shouldn’t be unnecessarily long and combine closed-ended and open questions for qualitative richness. Surveys and questionnaires are cost-effective so that you can simultaneously cover large groups of people.
  2. In-depth interviews and focus groups. By asking the right questions during direct one-to-one communications, you can learn about your customers’ personalities, what they enjoy doing in their spare time, their lifestyle, what they value most in life, and lots of other information that can be used for segmentation. By arranging small focus groups, you can explore individual perspectives and group dynamics, uncovering emotional aspects of decision-making and nuances often missed in quantitative approaches.
  3. Observational studies and ethnographic research. This psychographic segmentation method watches consumers in their natural environment. It involves documenting their real-life interactions, habits, and environmental influences that capture the essence of consumer lifestyles. It’s a more time-consuming approach compared to questionnaires and interviews, but it offers rich, qualitative data.
  4. Social media analysis and online behavior tracking. Digital analytics helps evaluate people’s online browsing habits and social media behavior, such as likes, retweets, and shares. They offer insight into what content resonates with the audience and their online activity patterns.

To get the most up-to-date and accurate data, companies often combine several psychographic segmentation methods, as each research approach contributes a unique thread, providing a nuanced profile of your audience.

Implementation of psychographic segmentation in marketing

The first step in implementing psychographic segmentation into marketing campaigns is to collect psychographic data using the above-outlined research methods. The next step is to analyze the collected data and categorize customers accordingly. Divide your base into smaller groups with common characteristics. The in-depth segmentation is a key to well-targeted campaigns with higher customer engagement.

Once completed with psychographic segmentation, create customer personas representing each segment – it will help you visualize your typical consumer as a real person and better understand their motivations. Personalization is critical in creating personalized product positioning and brand messaging tailored to each customer persona. This means creating unique content and design that will resonate and make a meaningful connection with every particular segment of your audience, motivating them to purchase.

Psychographic segmentation data and customer personas help tailor company messaging to every customer group and create unique value propositions for them – what is special about your product and how it helps a specific segment meet their needs. For example, if you appeal to business professionals, you should focus on the product’s efficiencies. And make your messaging sound green and eco-friendly to resonate with the environmentally oriented customer segment.

Psychographic segmentation is not something you do once and for all. To ensure effective marketing campaigns, you should constantly check if your data is still relevant and make new research and analysis now and again. Conversion rates and customer engagement metrics will help you see if your segmentation messaging works.

Psychographic segmentation vs. behavioral segmentation

As mentioned, a holistic understanding of your customers is paramount for driving successful sales. However, simply knowing who your customers are is not enough – understanding how they behave and why is essential. Though both are valuable, psychographic and behavioral segmentation differ in their approach.

Psychographic segmentation groups individuals based on their inner values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle choices, giving an understanding of what makes them tick and what motivations and reasons they have behind their purchase decisions. On the other hand, behavioral segmentation focuses more on the actions and behavior of the customers. It groups individuals based on their purchasing behavior, product usage, interactions with the brand, and their response to different marketing campaigns. Behavioral segmentation can reveal patterns such as customer loyalty, buying frequency, benefits sought, and readiness to purchase.

While psychographic segmentation helps see the ‘why’ behind consumer decisions, behavioral segmentation sheds light on ‘what’ the consumers do. Combining both strategies gives a holistic view of your audience, enabling you to create more effective, personalized marketing campaigns that resonate with your audience’s values and interests and align with their behavior and interaction patterns with your brand.

Key takeaways on the role of psychographic segmentation in marketing

Digital relationships between prospects/customers and brands can often feel disconnected and inhuman. More than ever, marketing teams need to implement sophisticated techniques like psychographic segmentation in their advertising efforts—because the better you know a person, the more personal value proposition you can offer.

Well-conducted psychographic segmentation serves as a base for personalized brand messaging tailored to each segment, which improves customer engagement, attracts more leads, and drives sales with higher revenues.

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Stephanie Mialki

by Stephanie Mialki

Stephanie Mialki is a digital marketing professional with expertise in ecommerce trends, landing pages, journalism, and mass communication.

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