Psychographics
in Marketing,
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A quick how-to on targeting your message to a specific market segment.

Introduction

Many years ago I went to a sales seminar where the speaker at the time was introducing the concept of psychographics, which is the study of breaking up customers into groups according to a certain psychological profile, and then studying the behaviour of each of those groups. Psychographics is like Demographics and Sociographics, but while Demographics breaks up people by their age, and Sociographics breaks up people by social status, Psychographics concentrates on a person's psychological makeup and how it differentiates their actions to people in other groups, in this case in respect to their buying habits and what types of marketing and advertisement works best on each group.

The thing to remember is that your advertisement and marketing efforts need to be targeted to one group and one group only. Multi-targeted marketing and advertisement that spans several of these Psycho-graphic groups is almost ensured to fail. After reading all the different groups and their profiles, I am sure you will quickly understand why. If you want to sell your products to two different Psycho-graphic groups, you need to create two advertisements, two different marketing campaigns, each targeted towards one specific group, and published in such a way that it is focused onto this group. So next time a media representative contacts you to try to sell you an advertisement spot, be sure to ask for a Psychographic breakdown of the target audience. You might get some strange looks, or you might get somebody who knows what he or she is talking about. In either case, your image will definitely improve by a few notches.

This theory breaks people into one of seven groups. Once you have identified your target market and your target audience for your product or service, this will help you choose the approach of the offer. If you are not sure, try to imagine what a person that would buy your product would look like, try to get a mental image of somebody you know personally, one single individual, and start from there. It always helps to think of your customer on very concrete terms, and in great detail. You need to know everything about this person: what turns them on; what turns them off; which terms catch their attention; what holds their attention; and what makes them tune out. Once you are sure what you are dealing with, you will be way ahead of most other companies.

Seven Groups of Psychographic Profiles

Belonger:
The Belonger is the largest group of people in the USA with about 40% of the population. The stereotype that fits this group best is the person that lives in an average town in the midwest. This group loves community, loves being with family and friends. This person needs to belong to a group, a community. These people frequently drive US made Pickup trucks or large US made sedans and station wagons. They are very nationalistic, and don't like change. Their best time is spending time with their friends, talking, having fun, hanging out. They are hard working, and are extremely conservative in their views, and most likely religious.
If you want to talk to Belongers, make sure your message includes things that are family or community oriented, made in the USA (if that is the country they live in), and does not change things from how they are now. They love that. As well, they will buy because of personal relationships, so you need to take the time to get to know them. After they have bought once, Belongers are very brand loyal.
If you don't want Belongers to listen to you, start talking about the New thing, the radical change, the new European or Asia cure to their problems, made in that foreign country, that is going to make them all individuals, isolating them, breaking them apart. Belongers hate that.

Achiever:
The Achiever is a group of about 5-7% population. This is the serious business person that is constantly looking to become more, and to make more. Power and physical wealth is the major stimulator that makes this person perform day in day out, 12-16 hours a day, 365 days a year. Workaholic is frequently an apt way of describing these people. This type will drive the Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Hummer, Porsche, high end luxury cars. In total contrast to the belonger, these people hate being part of a group. They need to be individuals, to set themselves apart from the rest. When the masses get in, these people get out. When they go shopping, it will be a seek and destroy mission because they hate shopping. They will grab the three things they want, quickly charge it to their card, and back out, and they will always buy the top of the line, latest in technological advancement, anything that their neighbour does not have. Achievers control about 90-95% of the money in the USA. They are top investment bankers, fortune 500 CXOs, Fund Managers, Movers and shakers, and other high fliers.
If you want to talk to Achievers, make sure you make it quick because you have about 5 to 10 seconds before they have forgotten about you. Make sure it talks about individuality, about innovation, and most of all, about power, money, and profit. And quickly. They love that.
If you don't want Achievers to listen to you, talk very slowly and disjointed, about how this is the conservative tried and true way that is the socially conscious way of solving the worlds problems, and how it will make them become part of the group, part of the community. They don't hate it, simply because Achievers will already have stopped listening to you in the first five seconds.

Emulator / Wanna be:
The Emulator is a group is about 15% of the population. This group would love to be an Achiever, but isn't. The emulator will try to do anything to make him or herself look like an Achiever with the goal of attracting the opposite sex or approval within their peers. They will buy the flashy foreign imports or local copies because they can't afford the true luxury cars, but these look expensive, look fast, and will attract attention. Fake Rolex watches, copied Louis Vuitton bags and counterfeit Armani suits can be spotted on these people, or whatever the current group of Achievers is wearing that they are trying to emulate. It might be the top rap artist, the top movie actor, the top sports star they are trying to copy, not the business man. The point is that the Emulator is trying to be like their idol in the pool of true achievers. And they motivation is that they believe this will make them more attractive to a member of the opposite sex, or to be more popular within their own group. This group suffers from low self esteem, needs peer approval, is usually under 30 years old, frequently not financially stable, but will spend whatever money they have on anything that will make them look like their ideal: successful. If you want to talk to Emulators, you need to make sure that whatever you are trying to sell them will make them seem just like the person they are emulating: Successful, an Achiever.
If you don't want Emulators to listen to you, just tell them how good they are naturally, and how they should be proud of what they are and what they have, and that they don't need anything else. Emulators will not believe you.

Socially Conscious Type A:
The Socially Conscious comes in two types, A and B. Type A is about 25% of the population and type B 7%. This group is not concerned with the world of achievement or the world of family or community, but rather what effects their actions have on society on a whole. The want to make the world a better place. They are environmentally concerned, they recycle, they use less, buy things that are environmentally friendly, and drive fuel efficient cars. They believe in schooling and teaching the children, are frequently highly educated with one or two university degrees, mostly in the liberal arts. They like to help the homeless and the poor, the socially disadvantaged. They are the ones that want to make a difference in their society, to help those who need help, and to guide those that need guidance. But they are quite cynical about society and it's downfalls, yet take a generally positive view of how the future could be.
If you want to talk to Socially Conscious Type A's, you must sell something that is making a difference to either society or the environment. Being very educated and able to do research, these people will quickly see through fake environmentalism and fake social conscience; and being cynical, they are unlikely to believe a major oil or chemical multinational giant tout their social and environmental contribution unless they see proof of this actually taking place.
If you don't want socially Conscious Type A's to listen to you, just tell them of how much power and money they will reap, at the expense of both society and the environment, from buying whatever you are selling. And even if you don't point of the obvious, this group is both smart and cynical enough to connect the dots and draw the real picture.

Socially Conscious Type B:
Very much like their cousins in Type A, most of the generalizations of Type A will apply to Type B, except for where Type A believes that there is hope for humanity on a whole, Type B has given up on humanity on a whole, and has moved off into their own small communities where they live socially conscious within their socially conscious group, communes. One can find these little islands spread all around the country, but not only in the obvious way that you might be thinking, the hippie communities in California, but also those that have sequestered themselves away in the hills of Montana, religious communities in Texas, and communes that can be found all over the world that don't believe in personal property.
I am not sure how you can sell these people anything because they are mostly self sufficient, and purposely cut themselves off from the world, so they are unlikely to be open to offerings from it now. But you are likely to get a lively debate with them over most topics, especially on governments, large business, world governments, and your general run of any conspiracy theories.

Balanced / Totally integrated:
Persons in the Balanced category are the smallest of all the groups, accounting for only 1-2% of the population. The Balanced group is basically a mixture of the Achiever and Socially Conscious types, which in certain respects is a bit of a paradox, but works quite well in practice. Basically, these are Achievers with a Social Conscience, a person that achieves with the purpose of making the world a better place. There is a well known woman that built an international sales empire, but frequently buying the goods from poor countries to provide much needed work and environmental fortune to those that need it, or buy things that are produced in an environmentally friendly fashion, concentrating on no animal testing, recycling and other such things. There are many other examples of people who have grown rich, who have achieved power and wealth, but still ensured that their labours don't come at the expense of society, but rather with the co-operation and to the benefit of humanity and nature as a whole.
Departing from the original theory, I would like to split the Balanced group into two subgroups, one being what I like to call the repentant sinner, and the other is the true philanthropist. The difference between the two groups is as follows: The repentant sinner was originally an achiever that stopped at nothing to get his or her way, but later in life became aware of his or her deeds, and now wants to receive absolution by giving things away and helping people. It is hard to sleep at night when you are haunted by the ghosts of those you have hurt along the way, and sometimes people comprehend later in life that what mattered when they were young and ambitious was not worth the price in the end. The true philanthropist on the other hand starts out with the vision of helping others while achieving his or her goals in the process, and does not step on others to get his or her way along the way. I believe it is important to differentiate between these two types because their motivation will be different.
If you want to talk to the repentant sinner, then you need to make sure you are meeting their goal on achieving some sort of absolution. In their case, making a profit is no longer the main consequence.
If on the other hand you are talking to a true philanthropist, as well as demonstrating a business vision, you need to make a case for how this business vision will also benefit mankind or the environment on a whole.
If you don't want this group to listen to you, don't worry, they are way to busy to listen to you in the first place, and unless you have something to offer them, chances are you will never get close to them in the first place. They will do their research before seeing you, or have staff to do so.

Needs driven:
Finally we end with the needs driven individuals, accounting for about 15% of the population. These are people that buy on impulse and instinct, depending on what they need at the time. There is little planning and things are bought as they are required. The interesting part is that, even though this part of the population is frequently poor, they will often buy goods at a surcharge because instead of doing the weekly shopping trip to the supermarket where things are cheaper, they will buy things last minute at the corner store. Another curious thing about this group is that they will frequently flash large amounts of money around, even if it is only a bundle of one dollar bills with a twenty on the outside to make it look good. In this way, there is a bit of emulator there, but they are not trying to emulate anyone in particular, they only want to prove that they have money. And to follow along the same line, when they do have a bit of money, they will spend it instantly on something, throwing a party, inviting their friends for drinks or dinner. From what I understand, the psychological motivation behind this is that they believe that if they do not spend it now, then it won't be there later.
If you want to talk to this group to sell them something, it's quite easy, you simply use fear. Impulse buying on late night television that runs along the lines of "take advantage of this great offer because it will never come again and you and your friends will hate you forever for being such a looser and you will forever be poor and insignificant! have your credit card ready and call 1-800... ".

In conclusion

Now that I have introduced the seven groups of Psychographic profiles in this theory, spend a bit of time and reflect on the marketing and advertisements you have seen lately, and try to discern which category they were targeted towards, or if they tried to target several categories. Did they do a good job? Did they use all the right terms, push all the hot buttons, avoid all the cold buttons, or did they commit any errors, minor or grave?

One more thing about media outlets: Should you come upon a publication and the sales representative cannot provide you with a psychographic survey of the readership, just look at the Ads in the magazine. Chances are that the people who spend hundreds, thousands, or millions on Ads know who is reading a certain magazine even if the publisher does not.


And that is the theory. Now go and turn it into practice, and prosper. Good luck!!!

Disclaimer: As I said in the introduction, this theory is an enhanced version from something I once learned from a sales seminar, and the original theory is based on the the research of ... somebody ... and I have no idea who they are, but if you happen to know where this first came from, please send me some email and I will make sure to put the necessary references and credits.

Or more on Psychographics? We can offer the following:
Psychographic Advertising Marketing Online
Psychographic Group Dynamics


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