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What are demographics and psychographics?

Consumer-oriented business analysis has shifted and fundamentally changed our ability to understand what people want and why
Black and white image of Sam and Shaka of ACF wearing fedoras.
© The Kooples

Why would a business course want to talk about your identity and style?

Bad news first. Because the math is against you. Amazon alone reportedly retails over 12 million items in thousands of categories. Factoring in Amazon Marketplace, the number of immediately available products surpasses 350 million. How do you even enter that space?

Nobody needs your stuff. However, somebody needs your stuff. That’s the good news. The good news is YOU!

Since the internet became available to the public in the mid-1990s, consumer-oriented business analysis has been shifting from demographics to psychographics. This has fundamentally changed our ability to understand what people want and why they do what they do in the way that they do it.

Types of data

There are two types of data:

1 Demographics

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Geography
  • Education, etc

2 Psychographics

  • Values
  • Attitudes
  • Interests
  • Priorities
  • Behaviour, etc

What are demographics?

Demographics are kind of ‘countable labels’ that mark a person in time and place. Product development and marketing used to be based on these basic metrics. For example, “This product is for women!” Oh, okay…

Over time, people began to recognise the limitations of this approach and try to experiment with the categories. Age became ‘Generation’ and sex now includes gender and sexual orientation.

Race expands to ethnicity and the concept of country-of-origin. Geography went out the window with globalisation and digitisation.

Education plays a different role as traditional degrees lose their practical value and status appeal. Demographics tell us less and less about consumer behaviour.

What are psychographics?

Psychographics is a new mode of analysis. How new? Its Wikipedia page is unverified. With data accumulated from social media and online traffic patterns, we can now better correlate people’s ideas about self and the world with their decision-making.

Turns out, we are much more motivated to act based on personal values, priorities, and interests. Your peers likely come from a wide range of identities around the world. What unites you is a passion for education, love of art, enthusiasm for fashion, and other previously unknowable criteria.

In the global digital village, designing and promoting a product or service based on demographics alone is a recipe for failure.

  • We engage with what we care about.
  • We support what we believe in.
  • We buy what matters to us.

No Self = No Brand


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