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What is psychographic segmentation?

Psychographic segmentation is the research methodology used for studying consumers and dividing them into groups using psychological characteristics including personality, lifestyle, social status, activities, interests, opinions, and attitudes.

Psychographic segmentation’s emphasis on characteristics like personality and values differs from demographic segmentation, which uses a specific trait (like gender, age, income, etc.) to categorize potential audiences. 

Market researchers use psychographic characteristics to help develop and position their products and marketing messages for different target groups.

Marketers use both demographics and psychographics in their market research to create their marketing strategy. This information adds detail to buyer personas that guide brand positioning, product development, and marketing messaging.

Psychographic marketing enables you to engage with multiple target audiences in the ways that will make the biggest impact for each one. This approach saves time and money on approaches that might fall flat and makes it easier to relate to the groups you care about.

You can use psychographics for market segmentation to understand:

  • How consumers really perceive your products and services
  • What consumers really want—and why
  • Gaps or pain points with your current products or services
  • Opportunities for future engagement 
  • How to better communicate with your target audience

Get insights about people you’re trying to serve and how to reach them.

One type of psychographic segmentation involves buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional profile of a potential customer that might include their title or role at work, their personal preferences, their challenges, or aspects of their lifestyle. 

The buyer persona represents both the facts and reasons for behaviors. Buyer personas are a first step in understanding your potential customer’s journey, or the steps they take before, during, and after they purchase your product.

You can also use psychographic research to develop different marketing strategies, services, experiences, and even product offerings for each of your segments. 

For instance, it is common to offer the same product or service with fewer features to price-conscious customers. Customers who don’t care about price but like more features can buy the same product, with more features, at a higher price.

You might find that some of your customers value convenience while others care about customer support. If you divide these into segments, you can adjust your marketing and services to cater to those motivations.

Surveys are a cost-effective and efficient way to collect psychographic information about your target audience. A variety of questions are used to help understand your ideal customer’s personality, lifestyle, social status, activities, interests, opinions, and attitudes.

Open-ended questions use a qualitative approach. “What is your biggest challenge with…” will provide a deeper understanding of the respondent's problems.

Likert scale questions show how much they agree or disagree with a statement, like “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” to let you know how important it is to them. Continue reading: What is a likert scale?

Semantic differential scale questions ask people to rate a product, brand, company, or other attribute, helping you understand their attitude.

For effective market research, you need to understand the five types of psychographic segmentation variables.

Personality. People make buying decisions based on personality all the time. Personality covers a broad spectrum of characteristics, from being open and conscientious to being an extrovert or introvert.

Attitudes. Cultural background, family-of-origin, and other factors will influence a buyer’s attitudes.

Lifestyle. Marketers search for feedback from people to better understand problems they encounter in their life. Athletes, business professionals, students, race car drivers, and soccer moms all have different lifestyles and unique challenges to solve.

Social Status.  A person's social status, often associated with their income, will influence if they buy basic items, luxury goods, or anything in between. Understanding the social status of your customers will influence your pricing, messaging, distribution channels, and marketing mix.

Activities, Interests, and Opinions (AIO). What do your customers like to do in their free time? Are they political, a movie binge watcher, or a night owl? Their AIO will influence how you position your products and attract their interest.

When combined, these variables create unique psychographic segments that make up specific target audiences. We’ll break down each of these characteristics in the following sections.

Develop your target audience’s psychographic profile with SurveyMonkey’s Audience panel.

There are many ways to describe a personality, but one of the easiest to remember and most commonly used is OCEAN.

OCEAN describes 5 aspects of a personality. Each aspect has a range from high to low that describes that trait. Psychographic segmentation marketing studies these aspects to understand how they influence a buyer’s behavior.

Openness. People who are very open to new ideas like to explore and be creative. People who are less open resist change or new ideas and are less imaginative.

Conscientiousness. Also known as mindfulness, people who rank high in this category like to plan ahead and take other people into consideration. People who are less conscientious don’t like structure or schedules, and are less considerate of others.

Extroversion. People who are extroverts are outgoing, like to be the center of attention and enjoy interacting with others. Introverts like solitude, talk less, and stay in the background.

Agreeableness. Cooperation and kindness are traits of someone who is highly agreeable. People who are distrustful or have little interest in other people have a low degree of agreeableness. 

Neuroticism / Emotional Stability. This trait refers to how emotionally stable a person is. A person with a high degree of neuroticism will be moody, anxious or irritable. On the other end of the scale is someone who is more stable, relaxed, and has less stress.

Marketers use surveys, the OCEAN Five Factor personality test, and other methods to understand their target audience’s personality characteristics. 

Companies use consumer personality traits to design product messaging for their target audience.

Even if two people have the same personality, they often have different attitudes towards life. Consumers will behave differently based on their attitudes. Attitudes might include aspects like optim