Insights on Today's Healthcare Consumer

The Differences Between Psychographics and Demographics

Posted by Brent Walker on Tue, Oct 10, 2017

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Audience segmentation is one of the most fundamental practices in the marketing world, primarily because it enables businesses to target potential customers in the most accurate and cost-effective manner possible. As any seasoned marketer will tell you, one of the quickest ways to blow an advertising budget is to fail to identify your target audience, which is why segmentation is such an essential component of any effective marketing strategy.

Demographic segmentation — i.e., defining audiences by factors such as age, gender, marital status, income, etc. — has been used by marketers for decades to help define their target audience profiles. But as countless real-world marketing campaigns have shown, it is not uncommon for people who fall within the same demographic profile to act in radically different ways.

While this doesn't invalidate the use of demographics — after all, they can be excellent starting points — it does underscore the need for brands to seek more nuanced information about their target audience.

Enter psychographics. This field of study focuses on collecting and analyzing the characteristics of an audience that are slightly more intangible, such as interests, habits, attitudes, emotions, and preferences.

Armed with this information, marketers can infer not only what product or service a customer might buy, but also why they would buy it. In healthcare, providers can use psychographic data to enhance patient education and activation efforts. In other words, psychographics provides marketers and providers with a window into the motivations, values and desires of a target audience, offering a substantial amount of insight into the drivers of consumer behavior from several different angles.

Psychographic segmentation is the act of identifying and classifying groups of people based on these shared data points, so that you can customize your brand’s tone and message to better connect with the people you’re trying to reach.

Psychographics vs. Demographics: Some Points to Ponder

  • Demographic information tends to focus on external or physical factors such as age, ethnicity, gender, location, etc., while psychographic information focuses on psychological factors such as motivations, beliefs, priorities, etc.
  • The most unique strength that psychographic segmentation offers is its inherent acknowledgement that people are different, and that they are often motivated by vastly different values, personalities, lifestyles, and/or attitudes. Demographic segmentation, on the other hand, tends to focus on somewhat generic data points (e.g., age, location, occupation, etc.) that can be misleading in terms of perceived commonality among people groups.
  • Demographic information has traditionally been easier to obtain versus psychographic information due to the widespread availability of public data such as U.S. Census Bureau statistics, CDC reports, etc. c2b solutions has sought to level the playing field in this regard by conducting extensive market research in order to develop a robust psychographic segmentation model and collaborating with a national data compiler company to project the segments across the U.S. adult population (age 18+).
  • When comparing the demographic and psychographic profiles of a target audience, what often surfaces is the realization that an audience's interests and preferences can cut across demographic classifications. For example, you might have an audience that shares the same interest in remote-controlled vehicles, but their age ranges and income levels might be dramatically diverse.
  • While using psychographics is admittedly less straightforward than using demographics, the insights extracted from psychographic information can be used to construct far more detailed customer profiles. This can pay great dividends in terms of being able to craft a brand message that resonates with the interests and affinities of a given audience.

Psychographics vs. Demographics: Which One Should You Use?

While demographics has long been considered one of the staples of consumer research, psychographics has gained substantial traction in recent years due to its ability to create highly detailed audience profiles. So which approach would be more valuable to use?

The good news is that these two segmentation methods do not have to be mutually exclusive; in fact, both approaches complement each other quite well. If you want to see an excellent example of the marriage of demographic and psychographic segmentation in action, look no further than Facebook.

Through the massive social network's feature-rich advertising platform, brands can place their message in front of highly targeted audiences that have been narrowed down based on very specific demographic and psychographic criteria including geolocation, interests, likes, relationship status, etc. This combination of key psychographic and demographic information helps brands develop relevant communications that easily connect with their target audience.

Demographic information can provide the starting point you need in order to develop a "rough sketch" of the audience you're trying to reach, but when you're looking for deeper insights into what makes your ideal customer tick, that's the time to begin using psychographic segmentation. By leveraging this innovative approach to audience segmentation, you’ll stand a greater chance of yielding profitable results from your marketing and patient engagement efforts.

 Psychographic Segmentation and the Healthcare Consumer

Brent Walker

Written by: Brent Walker

As Chief Marketing Officer, Brent's primary responsibilities include leading marketing strategy and execution for c2b solutions, development of c2b solutions' proprietary consumer segmentation model and insights products, research on healthcare consumers’ motivations and behaviors, and providing marketing guidance to c2b solutions clients.

Tags: Patient Engagement, Psychographic Segmentation, Patient Activation, Psychographic vs. Demographics

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