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In this article we discuss the importance of psychographic characteristics.
Profile image of a woman's brain
© RMIT University 2017
Psychographics refers to the way you look at your customers from the perspective of their personal characteristics. It relates to the psychological and personality characteristics of an individual and their lifestyle and values.
Psychographic characteristics are intrinsic and reflect how an individual is likely to act in relation to purchase or consumption decisions. They help identify the personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles of a buyer.
  • Lifestyle: What is their type of lifestyle? What lifestyle choices do they make?
  • Personality: What type of person are they? Are they friendly, warm or cold?
  • Values: What are their beliefs, morals and principles?
  • Opinions: Are they open-minded or opinionated?
  • Attitudes: What are their attitudes in life and toward the category or product you offer?
  • Interests: What are their hobbies, pastimes, leisure activities?
Two important psychographic characteristics to understand when profiling are lifestyle and personality.
Analysis of lifestyle can indicate how customers or consumers like to express themselves through symbolic items. Symbolism can, for example, be about wanting to express success, prestige, wealth, achievement or status.
For example, a person may have a typical life – get up and go to work, catch up with friends and family on the weekend, do the household chores etc. But what about when they want a sports car, lavish holiday, expensive jewellery or top of the range computer? These examples highlight how people symbolically use items to express a preferred lifestyle.
Globally, there are companies that track and report on these value segments. In Australia, Roy Morgan Research have identified 10 groups that link lifestyle and social class (see the related links section below). Experian Marketing Services manage segmentation across a number of global markets. Some links to these websites are provided in the related links area below.
Analysis of personality characteristics allows you to understand the differences between your customers or consumers, and how they view the world and their environment. Some of these characteristics might be:
  • How outgoing or shy they are
  • How they are willing to please others
  • Their willingness to try new things
  • Level of risk taking
  • Whether they are practical, solution driven or imaginative
  • How they view themselves (known as self-concept).
By analysing personality characteristics you will be able to identify what type of person they are and what you will need to do to make your ideal customer or consumer start thinking about your product or service. This is delving into who your ideal buyer is and what makes them tick.
One of the challenging aspect of psychographics is they are harder to identify and research and therefore more difficult to quantitatively measure. The reason they are hard to identify is that this information is not gathered from census data, rather it must be researched directly with the customer or consumer. This makes it somewhat more expensive to uncover the traits of your customers or consumers.
Sometimes, personality traits may trigger a customer or consumer to seek out a solution to purchase. Consider the following examples.
  • “I need a gift for mum”: Retailers know that people who are willing to please will purchase around gift giving events such as Mothers’ Day and the festive season – these seasons drive a lot of business.
    Tip: When customers visit your website, do you make gift suggestions? What marketing are you doing to help people who visit your site easily find the gift they are looking for?
  • “My dog is cold”: Customers start looking for solutions when they identify a problem.
    Tip: Thinking about keywords that a customer might use at the very beginning of their search will help you plan your page SEO and any paid SEM.
  • “Are my gas heaters safe?”: Creating a ‘problem’ in your customer’s mind is a common marketing technique that can trigger awareness or action to seek out a safer option.
    Tip: If you offer a service, what ‘problem’ might your customer not be aware they have, that you can fix? Make this really clear on your website and in any advertising that you do to drive web traffic.

What triggers a customer to start looking for your product or service?
Post your thoughts to the Comments section.

© RMIT University 2017
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Online Business: Customer Profiling for Success

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