What Are Psychographics?

What Are Psychographics?
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“Know your audience.” What do you need, crave, and depend on? What can’t you live without? Marketers, researchers, and branding experts rely on “psychographics,” or the study of personality, values, and attitudes, in their quest to know their audiences better.

Psychographic studies examine and classify people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria. It involves asking specific groups of consumers questions about their activities, interests, preferences, and opinions. Researchers can then blend the results with other datasets—such as demographic or geographic information—in order to develop a more nuanced portrait of the group.

Psychographics shouldn’t be confused with demographics. For example, a data-point like “Age” or “Gender” belongs under the umbrella of demographics, whereas something like “Values” or “Concerns” would fall under psychographics.

Psychographics are not only useful in consumer analysis, but can also prove effective in a business-to-business (B2B) context to describe the culture of a company. All that data about values and attitudes allows firms to not only target new clients who may prove especially amenable to their services, but deepen the relationship with existing ones. Psychographics allow you to understand who will comprehend and derive the most value out of what you do.

Most large companies already engage in persona research, in which they develop a hypothetical portrait of an “ideal” customer or client. With personas in hand, marketers and creatives can then adjust their work to better appeal to real-life clients. By mixing in data from psychographic studies, companies can make that messaging exponentially more effective—for example, knowing what visuals or descriptive words will trigger a positive audience response.

But how can companies actually collect psychographic data? Many rely on email or social-media surveys. Those with lots of resources—and time—may also commission in-person groups or panels (although smaller firms may balk at the associated costs). Talking to existing clients or customers is yet another effective method of data-collection.

In the book "Humans Need Not Apply,” author Jerry Kaplan discusses how artificial intelligence (A.I.) programs effectively analyze our online patterns and choices. By slicing and dicing this information into datasets companies can effectively determine (and monetize) your preferences and behavior. That’s another example of psychographics very effectively at work, boosted by software and the internet. Choices we make in our internet activity may be seen and recorded by invisible "cookies" the size of a pixel, which send information to be aggregated and utilized by those who are interested in understanding you so that they can better reach you.

Ultimately, psychographic tools are efficient for targeting marketing outreach and the development of new opportunities. A firm that fully understands a prospect’s desires has a much better chance of satisfying those desires, and build a trusting relationship that allows both company and client to benefit.

The psychographic concept can be translated into understanding who among potential clients will be most interested and value what you do. Understanding the persona of your perfect client can guide you in trying to reach those who have similar appreciations, tastes and aspirations. In creating and reinventing products and with services targeting your audience with psychographics are important considerations. In the context of our changing world they must be reconsidered on an ongoing basis. The key to our success is dependent on reaching those who will appreciate us most.


Janet Odgis is the President and Creative Director of Odgis + Co, an award-winning certified woman-owned design firm based in New York City. For 30 years she has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious corporations reinventing ways to define and express their brand. We Make Business Beautiful.

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