Psychographic Segmentation: A Simple Guide For Marketers

Most marketers understand the importance of customer research. Still, when it comes to creating a complete profile of our audience using data, it’s tough to know where to begin. 

The most common starting point is demographic data: who our customers are, from age to sex, race, marital status, and income level. 

Demographic data can be incredibly helpful. But sometimes we need more. 

Image courtesy of Marketing Insider Group

We know individuals aged 18-35 may be interested in performance biking gear, but demographic data alone can’t tell us who likes to spend their weekends training for cycling races, and who’s more likely to fall off the stationary bike at the gym. 

A number of women may be interested in organic shampoo, but demographic data can’t help us figure out which will prefer unscented cosmetics and be willing to pay more for sustainable products. 

If we want to truly know our audience and adapt our marketing and messaging to suit them, we need to know more about our audience’s motivations, preferences, and beliefs.

We need to move from who they are to how they are. That’s where psychographic segmentation comes into play.  (Don’t worry. It’s not as scary or complicated as it sounds.)

Getting In Your Audience’s Head: Psychographic Segmentation

“Psychographics” refers to an individual’s psychological characteristics, such as personality, attitudes, values, opinions, and interests. 

Because this type of information most often comes from within, it tends to be less easily observed or tracked from afar.  Psychographic data is most often collected via a survey or interview with audience members, using a series of questions designed to surface specific views, beliefs, preferences, and more. 

Psychographic segmentation is the process of separating or grouping an audience based on those psychological qualities. Sometimes this is done to identify a subset of audience members who fit certain criteria, but it can also be used to create many separate groups within an audience. 

At the most basic level, this could mean splitting a group into two categories based on a single characteristic, like whether they enjoy shopping online:

  1. Likes to shop online
  2. Does not like to shop online

But as additional psychographics are used to segment the audience further, the number of segments can grow very quickly:

  1. Likes to shop online
    • a) Likes to shop online and prefers using a laptop
    • b) Likes to shop online and prefers using a tablet
    • c) Likes to shop online and prefers using a mobile device
  2. Does not like to shop online

Psychographic Data Points

Exactly how many psychographics are used to segment an audience—and which data points are used to create those segments—will depend on what info is available and most relevant for your specific use case. 

Here are some of the most common variables used in psychographic segmentation:

Personality: Segmenting by personality traits means grouping the audience based on their beliefs, motivators, morals, values, outlook, and demeanor.  If you’re marketing a trip that involves white-water rafting, skydiving, and ziplining through a jungle, it would be helpful to know which members of your audience are risk-taking adrenaline junkies, and which ones get nervous going up a tall escalator.

Image courtesy of Gary Fox

Social Status: This refers to the audience members’ relationship with and standing within their community. Social status can be heavily influenced by demographic data points (like income, marital status, or education level), depending on the value placed on those characteristics. 

Lifestyle: This encompasses three closely related psychographic data types: Activities, Interests, and Opinions (AIOs).

  • Activities would include hobbies, daily routines, and habits. 
  • Interests are the topics that someone is passionate about or interested in. 
  • Opinions (sometimes labeled “attitudes”) refer to the preferences we all have regarding people, places, products, and more.

When you’re able to collect enough of this type of psychographic information to create a detailed portrait, it’s called a “psychographic profile.” 

Here’s an example of a basic psychographic profile for a customer of an ecommerce fashion retailer:

  • Likes to shop online.
  • Prefers using their mobile device to shop online.
  • Enjoys having multiple payment options for online purchases.
  • Wants to be seen as fashionable and on-trend.
  • Sees clothing as a form of creative self-expression.
  • Interested in up-and-coming designers vs. “overplayed” big names.
  • Loves styling their friends and helping them shop.
  • Believes that quality and craftsmanship are more important than price.
  • Prefers to support companies with sustainable practices.

How to Use Psychographic Segmentation in Your Marketing

Having psychographic data about your audience is interesting, to be sure. (It’s like being part Sigmund Freud, part Sherlock Holmes.) But if it’s used correctly, it can majorly boost your marketing efficiency and your conversion rates. 

Psychographically segmenting your audience, when combined with demographic and other data, allows you to know more about your audience. You’ll have a much clearer portrait of who your audience is and which types of marketing may be best for reaching, engaging, and converting them. 

This data can also be used to create more accurate ad campaign delivery on any platforms that allow for psychographic targeting. 

Adding hobbies and interests to your targeting parameters can help fine-tune your delivery, ensuring your messaging only reaches the subset of the audience most likely to engage with it. 

Image courtesy of InterestExplorer

When you have psychographic information about your audience, you also gain a better understanding of what type of messaging, positioning, and language they are most likely to relate to and respond to. 

With this data, you can create multiple landing page variations—one for each relevant psychographic segment of your audience. On each landing page, you can use customized copy that speaks directly to the motivations, values, and concerns of each subset of the audience. 

Remember the fashion ecommerce psychographic profile we created earlier? We can use many of those insights to inform landing page copy and design to optimize their experience and, hopefully, conversions too:

Insight: Prefers using their mobile device to shop online.

Action: Design pages mobile-first.

Insight: Enjoys having multiple payment options for online purchases.

Action: List all of the payment options.

Insight: Interested in up-and-coming designers vs. “overplayed” big names.

Action: Avoid using imagery from big-name designers and opt for lesser-known brand imagery.

Insight: Loves styling their friends and helping them shop.

Action: Be sure to mention “gifting” in the copy.

Insight: Believes that quality and craftsmanship are more important than price.

Action: Share details and imagery from the product’s production to emphasize craftsmanship.

Insight: Prefers to support companies with sustainable practices.

Action: Highlight any sustainable practices in the copy, and include any sustainability seals or certifications for each product.

And it’s not just your current marketing that benefits from the use of psychographic data. 

Knowing which psychographic subsets exist within your audience can help you structure future campaigns. Having this information upfront means you can iterate on the copy, imagery and calls to action on your landing page variants, allowing you to optimize for conversions

Additionally, psychographic data on your audience may reveal needs, challenges, concerns, or pain points that can inspire feature additions, product development, expansion of services, new partnerships, and more

Understanding your audience is a superpower. But like any superpower, it takes a little training.

(Cue the training montage…)

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About Melanie Deziel
Melanie is the Director of Content at Foundation Marketing, where she oversees content ideation and creation for B2B brands and Foundation itself. She’s an author, a speaker, and a big-time coffee drinker. All posts are proofread by a very fluffy feline named Luna.
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