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Psychographics is a method by which one can analyze and understand a social group and whereby one could get information about the psychological response to given situations by particular groups or individual persons. Psychographics is understood as a medium for understanding the diverse beliefs, opinions and interests of customers.1. It is also defined as profiling the perception, attitudes, feelings and preferences of customers and understanding the mental processes of customers in purchase decisions.
Psychographics a very effective tool of communication to the marketer, based on which appropriate marketing strategies can be formulated and implemented. It is believed that psychographics is perhaps a better method of understanding consumer behavior when compared with other behavioral tools such as psychodynamics, neuro-linguistics and design psychology. According to Harold Finkleman, "Psychographics enables to understand who we are in communication with, and how they would react to particular situations, whether it would be in a positive or negative manner and would thereby enable to have an understanding into their decisions made on the basis of their lifestyles and values upheld."2 We can use it to help us anticipate the psychological response to scientific individuals or audience to just about anything.
1. James.W.Peltier; John.A. Schibrowsky; Don, Schultz and John, Davis (2002), "Interactive Psychographics: Cross-Selling in the Banking Industry," Journal of Advertising Research. 42(2)
2. James.W.Peltier; John.A. Schibrowsky; Don, Schultz and John, Davis (2002) p..8
Market segmentation is one of the key marketing activities, which involves classification of population with the objective of identifying target groups on whom the marketing efforts can be focused. "Segmentation is essential for designing marketing and communication strategies to enable marketers reach out to the customers."3 A common method is to use the technique of demographics, by which the market is segmented based on gender, age, education, occupation, income, marital status and ethnic background. Demographics provides important information on the characteristics of the target market; for instance whether the population is dominated by youth or old, what is the average level of education and how much average disposal income is available with the potential customers. Thus, demographics provide basic information on the market participants but stops short of providing information on the psychological profiles of the customers. For example, with demographic data, it is not possible to know about the 'sentimental factors' that are involved in the purchase of an apartment by a middle class salaried worker. Another method of segmentation is by geographic, which is classifying the market based on boundaries and regions. 4 This again does not present a total view of the customer profiles.
3. M. McDonald and I. Dunbar (1995) 'Market Segmentation', Macmillan Press, London, p.47
4. George S. Low (2000), "Correlates of Integrated Marketing Communications," Journal of Advertising Research, 40 (May/June), 29
Psychographics is now recognized as an important and necessary tool in market segmentation as it attempts to unravel the buyer characteristics. Characteristics of psychographics include personality, attitude and lifestyle of buyers. Personality is of different types - compulsive, extrovert, gregarious, adventurous, formal, authoritarian, ambitious, enthusiastic, positive, indifferent, negative and hostile. "Understanding the personality of buyers would empower the marketer with the inside knowledge of customer expectations and can thus decide on the right marketing approach." Gender-based psychographic profiles have been developed to have a deep insight into buyer behavior. For males, Wells has suggested an eight-point psychological profile - quiet family man, traditionalist, discontented, ethical highbrow, pleasure oriented, achiever, he-man and sophisticated. 5
Obviously, different strategies will have to be adopted for each of these groups if a marketer is to be successful. The marketer can group the segment based on these psychological characteristics to evolve the right strategy. For instance, if psychographic segmentation shows that a group of potential buyers are young extroverts, then the marketer can design advertisements and commercials to suit such a behavior. "In profiling personality, the pleasure-arousal-dominance model is popular among marketers because it tries to measure the three basic and independent emotional states. Pleasure is a positive emotional state, in which the customer will be in a receptive state to the marketer and will be inclined to buy." 6
5. W.D Wells (1978) 'Lifestyle and Psychographics', American Marketing Association, p.44
6. W.D Wells (1978) p. 45
Arousal refers to the physical and mental alertness and is used to measure the buyer's emotional responses to a positive or negative stimulus. Dominance is about control, when the buyer feels in control of emotions. Personality traits such as anger, anxiety and satisfaction can be related to the three emotional states. Some other psychographic attributes based on the pleasure-arousal-dominance model include relaxed, exuberant and docile states. Color is another sensitive element in consumer behavior. "Psychographic profiling of color has identified three groups - the color forwards who are fashion savvy, the color prudent who take time in accepting new color trends and the color loyal, who do not accept color changes." 7 Attitude is the second major characteristic of psychographics. "Segmentation of attitude is based on degree of loyalty (to the brand), risk taking ability, probability of purchasing a new product."8. Individuals' attitude to the marketer's products and services can be in terms of personality traits. With respect to a potential buyer making the purchasing decision for a new product, attitude plays a role, depending on whether the buyer is an innovator, adopter or laggard. An innovator is more likely to make the decision faster compared to the laggard.
The third element in psychographic segmentation is lifestyle, which has three main dimensions namely activities, interests and opinions. Activities include work hobbies, social events, vacation, sports, entertainment and community interaction. A study of these attributes will give a picture of the general activities of the target segment. It is also important to know about the interests of the buyers, which may cover family, home, profession, food, fashion, media and entertainment.
7. James.W.Peltier; John.A. Schibrowsky; Don, Schultz and John, Davis (2002), "Interactive Psychographics: Cross-Selling in the Banking Industry," Journal of Advertising Research. 42(2): 10
8. W.D Wells (1978) 'Lifestyle and Psychographics', American Marketing Association, p.51
Opinions of the buyers on personal matters, social issues, politics, education, business and culture will also provide important inputs in mapping the segment profiles. Categorizing people based on apparent values and lifestyles is often referred to as 'psychographic profiling'. According to Mitchell, North American adults can be segmented into nine basic profiles. They include: survivors, sustainers, belongers, emulators, experentials, I-am-mes, achievers, societal conscious and integrateds. 9
From a psychological perspective, the survivors and sustainers belong to the need-driven category, emulators, belongers and achievers are driven by outer-directed needs such as status and social recognition. I-am-me, experentials and societally conscious groups are driven by inner-directed needs and such customers give more importance to individual needs than external values." 10 The integrateds are those who are psychologically mature and represent a combination of both outer activated and inner activated groups. This developmental stage is referred as nirvana and very few individuals are in this group. Mitchell describes the unique profile of each of these groups; for instance, the emulators are competitive, ambitious and in high income earners, the I-am-mes are young, instinctive and inventive, the achievers are natural leaders, professionals and status conscious.
9. W.D Wells (1978) 'Lifestyle and Psychographics', American Marketing Association, p.53
10. W.D Wells (1978) p.54
In the view of Mitchell, each segment evolves its own 'language' comprising of images, colors and expressions. It is the marketer's interest to identify and understand the language of the target segment and take appropriate steps to communicate in the same 'language'. In this approach, it must be remembered at all times that one attribute which is liked by one group, may be disliked by one or more other groups. "The marketer will have to tread carefully in determining the right approach, as while the efforts attract one group, they could turn off other groups, which can be detrimental in the long run."11 In such a case, every communication of the marketer would have both positive and negative responses, as the customer profile is invariably multi-segmented. For example, an advertisement focusing on sex-enhancing pills may be welcomed by emulators and experientals, but frowned upon by the societally conscious.
In practice it is not possible to develop advertisements or commercials that satisfy the entire cross section of customers. However, the marketer can ensure that as much as negative elements in the communication is eliminated and substituted with neutral alternatives so that certain groups are not seriously offended. In an interesting example of lifestyle segmentation, acronyms have been used to differentiate customer groups: yuppies, to denote young and upwardly mobile professionals, dinks-dual income with no kids, bumps-upwardly mobile and heavy borrowers, silks-single income with lots of kids, glams - affluent middle age with lot of leisure time and jollies -wealthy, old age travelers. 12
11. Low, George S. (2000), "Correlates of Integrated Marketing Communications," Journal of Advertising Research, 40 (May/June), 28
12. G.Drummond and J.Ensor (2001) 'Strategic Marketing: Planning and Control', Butterworth-Heinmann, p.56
In certain cases, there is increasing reliance on combining psychological profiles with specific…[continue]
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