Demographics, Psychographics & the Space In-Between

Often used to identify markets, demographic categories include age, gender, race/ethnicity and other variables. Social and economic factors, like income, education and employment can also be added to a demographic picture. But because we live in a complex world, members of a group who share physical or situational characteristics don’t all think and act alike. A demographic may get painted as a homogeneous mass when in actuality there is a strong diversity of thought among any particular cohort. In response, marketer turn to psychographics to help bridge such informational gaps.

We can say Psychographic segmentation was introduced to marketing research sometime in the 1970’s as a means for refining accuracy in target marketing. This would be done by dividing potential customers into sub-groups based on shared psychological characteristics. These may include subconscious or conscious beliefs and motivations. In this way a marketer may seek out and find customers who’s behavior might be predicted – what gets them to click? Behavioral and social sciences are used to understand decision making processes, attitudes and communication preferences.

The traditional way to develop a psychographic segmentation model is through a market research study. Surveying a statistically representative sample of a target audience. Typically a questionnaire based on a Likert scale (e.g., Strongly Agree = 1, Agree = 2, Neither Agree Nor Disagree = 3, Disagree = 4, Strongly Disagree = 5) is often used to assess beliefs about a subject. That target audience could be representative of a general population but it can be subdivided by factors which differentiate attitudes and beliefs about a certain topic or behaviors in a specific situation.

What other products or service category they utilize? How can this group of people be made relevant to one’s research or business objectives? The goal is to craft a clear image about that specific demographic or a socioeconomic group. Though typically used to describe more abstract aspects of a population’s makeup, understanding the psychographics of a target audience can help create marketing campaigns that resonate with them on a deeper level. At the micro-scale of a personal brand or individual campaign, research and the social media algorithm remain potentially equal in their usefulness for these purposes .

While there is no one perfect method, a useful example exists in a model developed by Procter & Gamble; five psychographic segments among health consumers (numbers in parentheses are the percentages of the U.S. population age 18+ represented by that segment:

  • Self Achievers (21%) – Goal oriented and motivated by measurable progress, Self Achievers are the most proactive and invested in their health.
  • Balance Seekers (15%) – Seeking options and choices and driven by knowledge and new information, Balance Seekers are also wellness-focused and explore different avenues to healthy living.
  • Priority Jugglers (12%) – Focused on responsibilities and managing a busy schedule, Priority Jugglers may not invest in their own health but make sure their loved ones get the care they need.
  • Trustful Responders (15%) – Wanting directive guidance from an expert healthcare professional, Trustful Responders are higher utilizers of the healthcare system but do not generally exhibit preventative behaviors.
  • Willful Endurers (37%) – Living in the “here and now” and wanting immediate gratification, Willful Endurers are reactive – and often disengaged – in their healthcare.

Each psychographic segment requires a different engagement strategy to maximize behavior activation. This includes segment-specific communication choices. What works for one segment won’t necessarily work for another segment.

For example, Priority Jugglers value commitment, dedication, responsibility and sacrifice, but you need to hook them immediately since they don’t have much time to digest a lot of information. SMS/text messaging works well with Priority Jugglers. Self Achievers respond well to goals, success, progress and achievement, and they are willing to put time toward researching information. Self Achievers prefer email and printed documents for the extra information they can provide.

If the key takeaway is that a “one size fits all” approach will not be effective across a population then it’s all the more important to find those which one can interact authentically. In a case where one is marketing themselves, or their art, it will be that native language and method of communicating which will attract fans and patrons. To use the example above, a Balance Seeker will be more likely able to speak to the same priorities of another Seeker than they would be able to communicate to a Willful Endurer.

When you understand your ideal audience, you can speak directly to them and craft your offer in a fashion that matches their preferences. Ads, content, websites – you can personalize everything to reflect a particular psychological profile – ideally your own. That right there is what I think is the important bit. Demographics are helpful but they can’t supply details required to created a personalized experience; even if it’s just for the duration of that email, DM or interaction. Psychographics can be leveraged to bridge that gap, but unless you’re functioning as a multi-million-dollar brand or a consistently viral influencer, It will be a case of make it personal – or miss out.

  • 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions the consumer has had with the brand.

While making psychographics a part of your marketing persona is likely to boost engagement the individual artist [or person as brand] must face a basic human truth: we still crave authenticity. If your marketing campaign makes people feel as if your work is in tune with them, they’ll be far more likely to engage with you. This feat is much more easily accomplished on genuine common ground. An emotional connection is the first step towards what folks now call conversions, hugely valuable for any brand; especially important for the indie-artist.

The individual artist does not have a major budget or an in-house marketing department, they must work towards their own strengths in communicating their message. It’s here where psychographics can make an effective tool to power brand loyalty as expressed by a fanbase. When people feel an affinity for a brand – a sense of shared values or outlooks – they’re most likely to stay with it long-term. When the artist is the brand we are not only seeking to engage customers, we seek fidelity for our creative process. Call them the ideal reader, a superfan, patron or friend – the authenticity contained with-in that interaction offers the only substantial advantage in today’s ultra-competitive attention economy.

A campaign succeeds when it resonates with that space where one’s personal demo/psychographics overlap with another. It’s that blending of things that matter to the creator with those of their audience that result in a mutual experience which builds trust, even with-in the most limited confines and a brief market interaction. The hitting of a 👍 or 💛 button, signing-up and even clicking BUY.