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How to reach your target group more individually with psychographic targeting

Personal values and convictions have a decisive influence on purchasing decisions – psychographic targeting takes advantage of this insight.
Image: © Mangostar / Adobe Stock

Psychographics in marketing: Learning from psychology

Gender, income, age, education level: for a long time, target group identification was based on socio-demographic factors – and thus ultimately on stereotypes. But in an increasingly pluralistic society in which many different life models exist equally alongside one another, socio-demographic targeting quickly reaches its limits: two 40-year-old female academics, for example, may be guided by very different demands, convictions and motives in their purchasing decisions. To address consumers in the right way, the focus in target group identification must therefore be directed towards more individual aspects.

This is precisely what psychographic targeting aims to achieve. The term psychographics stems from psychology and describes the attempt to explore the motivation for action of different personalities. Psychographics in marketing are based on the finding that personal values and characteristics have a significant influence on our purchase decisions. Through more precise targeting, customers feel personally addressed and are more receptive to the advertising message.

Developing differentiated personas with psychographic targeting

Psychographic targeting is therefore essentially about finding out which personality traits and attitudes consumers base their purchasing decisions on. This approach can be used to develop more differentiated personas than is possible on the basis of superficial socio-demographic classifications. For example, some consumers have high security needs, others are very performance-oriented and yet others attach great importance to creativity and new experiences.

In psychology, the “Big Five” have become established as the basic model for describing personality factors. They group different characteristics of people into five dimensions:

  • Extraversion
  • Openness to experience
  • Conscientiousness (perfectionism)
  • Agreeableness (willingness to cooperate, empathy)
  • Neuroticism (vulnerability)

On these scales, the strength of each individual’s personality traits vary. In addition to the Big Five, psychographic targeting also draws on the Big Three. This model refers to the three central motives that drive people to act:

  • The performance motive (desire for challenge)
  • The attachment motive (desire to belong)
  • The power motive (desire for autonomy and control)

Psychographic targeting: Matching personal values and brand values is key

With the help of psychographics, specific buyer personas can be developed. The advertising message and method of address can be adapted specifically depending on whether the persona is sociable, introverted or adventurous. Why do consumers decide to buy a certain product? This depends largely on how well the fit between the customer’s personal values and the brand values is and how well this fit is communicated through appropriate advertising messages.

Serviceplan subsidiary mediascale has demonstrated how insights from psychographic targeting can be put into action in media planning and marketing strategy in specific cases. Partnering with Hochschule Fresenius in Hamburg, the media agency has already carried out several campaigns based on psychographic targeting.

Probably the best known example is the campaign for the Mini Countryman: with the help of psychographics, already existing socio-demographic personas were divided into five differentiated personality types. Among other things, the target group’s surfing behavior was examined. The aim was to find out which motives could lead each of the psychographic personas to be interested in the SUV. After determining the respective motives for action, individually tailored advertising messages were developed focusing on different aspects of the Mini Countryman. The strategy worked: with the help of psychographic targeting, the conversion rate increased by 200 percent.

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