Psychographic segmentation: a savvy small business tool

5 min read
Tanya Jamal

Psychographic segmentation can transform the way you market your small business.

Psychographics can be a real game-changer for small companies.

This type of data basically tells you the specific reason someone will buy your product or service. It also tells you something about those most likely to buy — their values, characteristics and needs. Knowing this information can change the messaging and who you target in your advertising efforts … and the results of those efforts.

Psychographics made simple

So how can you apply this strategic tool to your small business’ marketing?

First, you have to understand how marketers group data they gather about real and potential customers. By finding ‘segments’ of the marketplace that share specific beliefs, values or characteristics, one can create marketing messages tailored to those people.

The segments can generally be broken down into the following categories:

Personality characteristics of consumers

Just like people, businesses try to cultivate a particular mystique or personality. Dove, for example, chooses sincerity as its central descriptor, while the outdoor retailer MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-operative) opts for a rugged image.

Psychographic Segmentation I Am Bold Sign
The goal is to learn your customers’ habits and beliefs, then mirror them.
Photo: Steve Harvey on Unsplash

By matching the characteristics of your products with those of the people most likely to buy from you, you can create more targeted messages or offers.

Lifestyle habits and choices

Environmental and human rights champion Anita Roddick created The Body Shop and built it into a powerhouse that went global by mirroring the lifestyle and ethical choices of its customers.

Environmental consciousness and human rights messaging appealed to vastly differing segments of traditional demographics. Aligning The Body Shop’s image with these values earned it a loyal following in an already crowded soap, toiletry and makeup market.

Opinions, preferences and attitudes

Lifestyle messages that sync with your customers’ view of the world is what psychographic segmentation is all about. By focusing on preferences and opinions that transcend age, race and socio-economic factors, businesses can appeal to a potentially huge audience that crosses categories.

A good example of this is Apple’s consistent focus on the simplicity and beauty of it’s designs. Each piece of technology it produces is often groundbreaking, but its marketing appeal goes beyond the obvious technophile to the segment of the market interested in aesthetics and design.

Consumer loyalty behaviors

Consumer loyalty results when a customer has had a positive experience with your brand and develops a trusting relationship with your company.

Loyalty stems from a belief that the company will continue to care for them as people.

By being aware of your repeat customers and marketing to them directly through rewards incentives, you can increase sales. Think of reward points programs and their accompanying perks and products/services available only to those with memberships. Sometimes ‘Membership has its [marketing] privileges.’

Where to find psychographic data

Now, where and how do I get my hands on this psychographic data, you ask? Well, the type and depth of data you can get all depends on your budget.

The giants of the marketplace usually spend large amounts on having nationwide surveys created, conducted and analysed by psychographic and marketing professionals.

Psychographic Segmentation Customer Interview
Interviewing loyal customers is a good way to find out about their habits and beliefs.
Photo: Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Medium-sized companies will often hire market research firms to carry out:

  • Customer interviews
  • Store-based surveys
  • Focus groups

This is less costly than involved studies, but certainly has a price tag of some consideration.

The small business is then left to be a little more creative with their budget, especially if they are just starting out.

Do your own basic research

Good old-fashioned reading, whether online or at the library or bookstore, should be the first place you look. The people at Crobox have a plethora of articles, including:

  • Evolutionary Psychology of eCommerce. This post discusses how we have evolved as a species to respond to certain drives and offers some advice on how to tap into these in your eCommerce strategy.
  • Understanding and influencing online behavior with persuasive design introduces the theoretical model behind persuasive, behavior-driven eCommerce design.
  • How to trigger consumer behavior with subconscious marketing. This post explores the idea of subconscious decision-making and suggests some useful techniques to get started.

Use low-cost, easy-to-get tools

If you are a small business, one of the best places to find this kind of data is on your own website or web store. Make friends with Google Analytics — it can track and sort the behavioral data of those visiting your website or store.

Psychographic Segmentation Analytics Dashboard on Tablet
Google Analytics can tell you a lot about your website visitors.

Besides showing purchasing behaviors, Google Analytics can tell you which pages or products:

  • Are commonly used as landing pages
  • Get the most views
  • Keep visitors interested the longest etc.

Knowing the specific instigator that triggers the action of buying makes psychographic segmentation data particularly valuable.

Sell more with psychographic segmentation

The most successful businesses on earth know all sorts of things about their customers. By learning (and paying attention to) your customers’ choices, values, lifestyle and loyalty behaviors, you can design more effective ads, emails and website content.

Bringing your messaging in line with the attitudes and beliefs of your target market will increase sales.

Psychographic segmentation is a more nuanced and sophisticated approach to marketing. When done right, it pays for itself many times over.