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The Importance of Psychographic Marketing in a Polarized Age

Understanding your audience is critically important when you’re developing a marketing campaign. Psychographic marketing allows marketers to better understand consumer preferences, opinions, and attitudes on issues and interests that concern them most.

Whether you’re building out a targeted direct mail campaign for mortgage or automotive distribution, or you’re simply looking to optimize online traffic, successful marketing strategies hinge on a full understanding of your target demographic.

What Are Psychographics?

Similar to a demographic, a psychographic segmentation classifies customers via shared goals, demeanors, habits, hobbies, and other psychological benchmarks. Psychographics can help marketers and business owners appropriately pair promotional materials and targeted content to individuals who show signs of interest.

Types of Psychographics Data

The data can be segmented into a variety of categories, depending on how it has been gathered, categorized, and presented. Data types can include:

  • Interests such as customer hobbies or passions, affinity categories that can include anything from television shows to sports teams, individual social media influencers to specific travel destinations.
  • Activities or any actions that people enjoy, whether that means outdoor activities like hiking and biking, or indoor activities like reading and board games.
  • Opinions and perspectives, especially when those opinions concern environmental issues, mental health concerns, or other areas of interest or sustainability.

Psychographics vs. Demographics

There’s understandable confusion between psychographic information and demographics, especially given how much they can overlap. In general, demographic data relays structural information on a population, whether that’s age, race, gender, or income.

By contrast, psychographic information concerns an individual’s current interests, passions, and perspectives, including attitudes and lifestyle habits they choose to adopt.

Together, demographic and psychographic data combine to holistically define consumers on an individual basis. Analyzing both data sets together can give researchers a better understanding of target markets.

The Benefits of Psychographic Data

Psychographic data is critically important for a wide variety of marketing applications. Once marketers understand how customers think and what they’re passionate about, they can begin to tailor content they know customers will resonate with.

Specific psychographic benefits can include:

  • Aligning content messaging closely with customer beliefs;
  • Understanding exactly where customers spend time, both online and in-person;
  • Dismissing interests and hobbies that your customers are indifferent about;
  • Discerning the reasoning behind customer purchases.

The right psychographic information helps marketers understand the reasons why customers commit, as well as the reasons why customers refrain from committing. By pairing the right message with the right customer at the right time, psychographic data provides priceless information on customer mindset and demeanor.

How to Collect Psychographic Data

Marketers and researchers deploy a spectrum of research methods to collect psychographic data. These data collection methods can include:

  • Passive online psychographic methods that collect a user’s search data;
  • Social media analytics that compile behavioral data into psychographic categories;
  • Specific opt-in studies where customers voluntarily submit their psychographic data;
  • Psychographic aggregation tools that ethically comb online sources and offer non-confidential data to marketers and researchers.

A majority of psychographic data collection methods take place online, and can help you deploy information for virtually any marketing campaign you choose to launch.

How to Effectively Use Psychographic Data

Once collected, psychographic data can be used in a wide variety of ways. Applications include direct mail, where tactile marketing is combined with psychographic marketing to target consumers according to attitude and perspective matching. After building out a mail list, you’ll be able to reach customers with personalized messaging, right in their mailboxes.

Direct mail can be used to reach consumers through personalization or individualization, depending on your preferred approach to consumer targeting. 

Other methods for effective psychographic data use include dynamic web code that customizes content according to customer information. Landing page development, advertisement headlines, and buyer-nurture email sequences all benefit from banks of customer psychographic data.

Trends of Ideological Polarization

Modern public opinion is largely dominated by ideological polarization, where opinions and political attitudes vary to the extreme. Especially among individuals actively engaged in the political process, views remain deeply divided between party lines.

From a societal perspective, ideological polarization has contributed to a growing divide between individuals of separate — and similar — political parties. Trust in public authority has also suffered: in 2019, only 45% of individuals trusted their government, a figure well below 77% trust in local police, and a 69% trust in healthcare.

Steep divides in ideological polarization can also make marketing efforts more difficult. Specifically, brands or companies with messaging at all suggestive of one political opinion can instantly ostracize any members of an opposing political party. This issue only improves the value of psychographic data, which identifies underlying similarities in customers’ attitudes and opinions.

The Effects of Globalization and Digitization on Ideology

As businesses continue to expand across the world, and the digital age allows customers to purchase products from companies regardless of their physical location, ideological polarization is quite obviously affected. Both globalization and digitization work to actively promote shared perspectives and opinions — especially of a political nature — regardless of a customer’s physical location or regional political affiliation.

As companies continue to digitally expand across the globe, this shared ideological polarization trend is only likely to continue. Sensitivity to a customer’s opinions, perspectives, and behavioral data, especially in light of ideological polarization, will likely remain critical to corporate success moving forward. Fortunately, psychographic data continues to help marketers unlock the truth behind customer preferences, regardless of where they are, who they are, or what they’re interested in.