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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

Why Your Startup's Marketing Strategy Should Focus More on Psychographics

Updated: Feb 4

There are underlying skills (also known as soft skills) that go into every professional practice that makes those who excel in their respective practices exceptional at their jobs.

For example, if you were a doctor, one of those soft skills would be interpersonal communication with your patients. If you were an educator, a soft skill would be having empathy for your students. And if you are a marketing professional, that soft skill would simply be understanding psychology.

Actually, psychology isn’t just a soft skill at all for marketing professionals, it is the primary skill.

That’s because in order to create concepts that’ll connect with consumers (which is what marketing is all about), you must first understand the consumer well enough from a psychological standpoint in order to know what would resonate with her.

And psychographics play a huge role in helping marketing professionals accomplish that objective.

Purchase intent

In just about every credible intro to marketing course around the world, students are taught the meaning of psychographics; which is the study of consumers based on their personality, activities, interests, opinions, and lifestyles. But if you were to sit in on a marketing meeting at most startup’s today, you’d hardly ever hear the word mentioned.

Today’s marketing professionals spend far more time focusing on a consumer’s demographics—as opposed to their psychographics. Which is a big mistake.

The reason why focusing more so on demographics rather than psychographics—is such a mistake is due to the fact that demographics aren’t the best indicator of consumer purchase intent. But psychographics certainly are.

For example, let’s say that you owned a luggage handling startup whose target audience is young adults. Demographics could help you identify Amber as a 24-year-old African-American female who is a recent college graduate and is currently earning a salary of roughly $73,500 a year working as a financial analyst in Seattle, Washington.

However, what demographics wouldn’t tell you is if Amber’s lifestyle permits her to travel. If she even enjoys traveling. And just as importantly—if she is even the type of person that would be most likely to pay for a luggage handling service; all answers that could be provided with the help of psychographics.

Demographics cannot account for cultural factors

You’re probably wondering, ‘If psychographics are so great, why is it that so many companies focus mostly on demographics when targeting consumers?’

The reason is that while psychographics provide insights pertaining to what makes a consumer tick, most companies prioritize quantitative data (consisting of a person’s age, income, zip code, etc.) as opposed to qualitative data (which focuses more on a person’s characteristics).

Although quantitative data helps your company identify consumers based on their age, sex, location, and income—what it doesn’t provide is information pertaining to what influences consumers to actually making a purchase from your company—like cultural factors.

Cultural factors play a huge role in influencing consumers to purchase your products or services for many of the same reasons peer pressure has always been so effective—consumers belong to tribes. And the products or services they purchase are often a reflection of what will either boost or lower their status within their respective tribe.

Audience understanding

Make no mistake about it, there’s nothing wrong with using demographics to categorize a particular audience that you’d like your brand to appeal to. At Decryption, we certainly do it on a daily basis.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that consumers are more likely to take a desired action (like making a purchase) based on their individual interests; not their age, race, or location.

By focusing more on your audience’s personal interests and behaviors instead of solely on demographics—you’ll be able to have a much clearer understanding of how to effectively communicate with them in a way that’ll yield the best results.

It saves your company money

Imagine one day that you and a few of your friends decided to take a charter boat out to go fishing in the ocean. After a few hours of enjoying hanging out in the ocean with your friends, you all notice that not only hasn't anyone in your group reeled in a fish, you also notice that no one in your group has even received a bite.

Flustered, you complain to the boat’s captain and tell him that you and your friends spent too much money on the trip to not even receive as much as a bite; despite the fact that you know there’s fish in the water all around you.

Realizing that you weren’t kidding, the captain checks your crew’s gear to see why none of you hadn’t caught any fish. Instantly, he identifies the problem… you guys were fishing with freshwater bait in saltwater! Which essentially is the same as fishing with no bait at all.

Well, that’s what it’s like when companies spend a bulk of their marketing budget solely to appeal to consumers based on their demographics and not taking psychographics into account.

So, whenever you’re setting out to appeal to a particular audience with your marketing, just make sure that whatever hook you use is covered with psychographics—and you’ll have the best chance to land your limit of customers.


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