Data plays such a prominent role in this digital era. Psychographics and ad targeting may trigger a need to change your marketing efforts. That’s because marketing has changed from pushing content out to potential customers, to delivering content that is so precise it can help forecast future needs. There are a number of ways to learn about your customer—quantitative and qualitative, passive and active. Market research often deals with two types of customer data: demographics and psychographics. There are big benefits to using psychographics, but it’s also important to understand what they are in order to use that data.

What are Psychographics?

Pyschographics is the study of consumers based on what is known as IAO variables—interests, activities, and opinions. It goes beyond classifying people based on general demographic data such as age, gender, and income level. Psychographics seeks to understand the cognitive factors that drive consumer behaviors. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional responses and motivations; moral, ethical, and political values; and inherent attitudes, biases, and prejudices. Gathering and analyzing this data allows marketers, advertisers, and researchers to create detailed “psychographic profiles” of audience segments, which are then used to create relevant messaging for those segments.

Psychographics vs Demographics

Couple online shopping together on laptop
Couple online shopping together on laptop

Psychographics are similar to demographics. Demographics explain “who” your buyer is while psychographics explain “why” they made their purchase decision. While psychographics tracks interests and opinions, demographic data relates to the structure of a population. Demographics are used in a variety of areas such as business, education, and economic research. Neither one needs to be used as stand alone data and you can analyze psychographic data in relation to demographic, geographic and behavioral data. Understanding both strategies can help you reach your target audience. Both datasets start to form the buyer persona, which is a detailed picture of the people you work with now, and would like to target in the future. Let’s put this into an example (buyer persona) on how you can use psychographics in your marketing:

Let’s take a young adult male in your customer database:
  • Demographics
    • Male
    • Aged 25-30
    • Single, no children
    • Income level between $60K-$75K
    • Works in technology
  • Psychographics
    • Enjoys biking and running
    • Shops at organic grocery stores
    • Volunteers at the local animal shelter
    • Huge football fan
    • Hobby guitarist

By only using one category from above, you can see how the buyer persona is less rounded. Demographics will get you general age and salary range for example, but that can be very granular. Psychographics can help you with messaging, persuasion, and creativity when targeting and reaching out to customers because of its focus on why and how this person felt when deciding to make that purchase. It’s helpful to mention that psychographic data makes it much easier to create campaigns and even design better landing pages for your buyer personas. It’s less guesswork and more focused marketing and messaging for your customer base (getting the right message in front of the right people).

It’s important to know that to better define your strategies to engage customers, you truly need to understand their buying decisions. You need to understand why people make a purchase, how they make their purchase, and how to use these insights to be effective with your marketing.

The demographics alone are too broad and will only give you an idea of who your audience is. It helps us understand our customer’s challenges. However, implement psychographics in your marketing efforts and now you can understand where to find that customer and what really moves that customer to action. This in turn gives your company the chance to create highly targeted campaigns. Once you understand what is important to your customer, you will know where to find them and how to motivate them. You’re going to know what your customers want and this will benefit future marketing campaigns.

Do you have any experience using psychographic and demographics in marketing? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.