Psychographic segmentation variables

What is Psychographic Segmentation and what are psychographic segmentation variables?

In this post, we will discuss psychographic segmentation and its relevance in terms of marketing as well as the five variables used for psychographic segmentation and how marketers use them to understand their customers and creating marketing campaigns.

Psychographic segmentation is the type of market segmentation that deals with the psychological aspects of consumer behavior and why consumers might be particularly inclined to buy certain products or services. Personal values, personality, opinions and other psychological factors affect various aspects of consumer behavior including the type of products or services that a person prefers to buy. Marketers generally use psychographic segmentation to augment the information that they have obtained through demographic or geographic research. It is because psychographic research offers deeper information related to consumer behavior which can be used to develop more targeted marketing messages, effectively run marketing campaigns or in various cases to reposition a product before new customer segments.


There are mainly five types of psychographic variables that can be used to group people for segmentation. These variables offer critical information related to various aspects of consumer behavior including why consumer behavior can differ between people from the same social class or geographical area. Here is a description of these five variables used for psychographic segmentation:

Five Psychographic Segmentation Variables:

Personality:

One of the leading factors that consumer behavior can differ from person to person despite their being from the same social class or even the same family or area is the difference in their personality. Personality affects consumer behavior to a great extent. It affects people’s personal choices and their behavior as well as response to various products and services. Personality covers a broad spectrum of characteristics used to define an individual like introversion to extroversion or openness to conscientiousness. One of the most commonly used frameworks for understanding personality and its various aspects. However, these five characteristics represent a range between two extremes. For example, someone can be extremely introverted while someone can be extremely extroverted and most people fall somewhere in between these two ranges.

The OCEAN framework describes these five aspects of personality in the following manner.

Openness:

The emphasis of this trait is on imagination and insight. People who rank high on this trait have a wide range of interests and are also more open to new ideas. The yare curious, creative and adventurous. Conversely, the people who rank low on this trait tend to be highly traditional in their outlook and find it difficult to adjust to change.

Conscientiousness:

Conscientiousness as a personality trait is associated with high level of thoughtfulness, good impulse control and goal directed behaviors. The people who rank higher on this trait tend to be more organized and more mindful of how their behavior affects others. These people believe in keeping their lives organized and are mindful of deadlines. Conversely, this ranking low on this trait are less organized and would like to leave things on future.

Extraversion:

Extraversion or extroversion is a personality trait that is characterized by excitability, sociability, talkativeness and high social expressiveness. Such people tend to be more outgoing and gain energy by being in social situations. Being among people helps them feel energized. Conversely, the people who tend to be low on this trait are introverted and remain more reserved. The generally do not like socializing much and gain energy by remaining in solitude. Such people can find social settings to be tiresome and draining.

Agreeableness:

Agreeableness is a personality trait that refers to character attributes like kindness, altruism and other prosocial behaviors. The people who rank high in this attribute tend to be more cooperative and kind towards others whereas the people who rank lower are generally more inclined to be competitive and manipulative.

Neuroticism:

Neuroticism is a personality trait that is characterized by sadness and emotional instability. The people who rank high in terms of neuroticism, experience mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and depression. Conversely, the people who rank low on this trait are emotionally more stable and resilient.

Attitudes:

People’s attitudes are influenced by several things including their family background, culture, upbringing and other factors. However, attitudes also change over time with changes in a person’s physical and social environment as well as changing age and social status. People may have a positive or negative attitude towards something. Or they may trust or not trust a particular brand or person. Researchers generally use Likert scale survey questions to determine people’s attitudes towards particular things and whether they would rate something as extremely important or extremely unimportant on a range of choices.

Lifestyles:

People’s lifestyles also have a direct influence on their buying behavior and that’s why lifestyle is an important psychographic variable. Understanding the customers’ lifestyles helps marketers understand how their needs and wants differ and how they can serve various groups of customers best. People can have different lifestyles and can be categorized into various segments on its basis. For example, lifestyles differ from one generation to another. The millennials and gen Z are more technologically inclined compared to the previous generations. Similarly, the lifestyles of athletes differ from that of professionals. Some brands target definite user groups based on their lifestyles. Businesses can target thrill seekers or yoga enthusiasts. Based on which lifestyle category a person belongs to, brands can target various segments of customers.

Social Status:

Social status is an important psychographic variable with a direct influence on customer buying behavior. The social status of a person affects his personal choices and preferences as well as the kind of products and services he likes to purchase. Social status of a person is mainly determined by his income level. His social status or social class affects his buying behavior. Especially, when a businesses is trying to determine its marketing mix including product, distribution, pricing and promotional mix, social class is an important factor to help them make the right decisions in this regard. The most commonly used social classes for purpose of segmentation include upper class, upper middle class, middle class, working class and lower class.

While the social class of a person may not always affect the size or type of purchase, it is mostly an important factor determining the type of purchase a person is most likely to make. People from various classes may buy the same product because it is a basic need for all. However, if some one buys a luxury product, then it is not because it is a basic need, but because he is from a certain class and has the ability to make that purchase.

Activities, Interests and Opinions:


Customers’ activities interests and opinions also tell a lot about their buying behavior and purchasing decisions. Marketers find this information useful in terms of attracting and retaining customers.

  • Activities: The focus of activities are people’s daily routine and hobbies. It focuses on how people like to spend their time. For example, someone likes to cycle to their office daily and spends his weekends at home with his family watching Netflix. Another person goes to his office daily by car and spends his weekends outside with his friends or playing golf. So, the purchasing patterns and preferences of these people may vary.
  • Interests: Interests generally refer to hobbies and can sometimes overlap with activities. For example, someone whose hobby is painting spends his weekends at home making paintings. However, painting is also an activity. Another person might be interested in chess and may be the member of a chess club. Differing interests also affect people’s purchasing behavior and their preferences. Knowing people’s interests helps marketers connect with their customers better and can also be used in terms of marketing to craft better messages.
  • Opinions: People may feel strongly about certain topics or issues, particularly the ones that affect their lives the most. These issues can be social, political or even religious. They can have different opinions about various things. For example, some people may feel strongly for the environment and climate. Others may feel strongly for social change and for eliminating poverty. These opinions are relevant for marketers to determine what kind of marketing messages will help them connect with their customers with highest effectiveness. Knowing their customers’ opinions on certain subjects helps them create marketing messages that will positively influence their customers. At least, it helps them avoid making mistakes that might have a negative impact on their brand image and customer loyalty. For example, a business carries out a survey to know how its customers feel about sustainability. It turns out that its customers care strongly for the climate and environment and a large percentage of its regular customers make it an important criteria when making buying decisions. The business makes it a part of its marketing messages and highlights in its marketing campaigns how sustainable its products and processes are.