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Psychographic Segmentation

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012

Psychographic segmentation is sometimes also referred to as behavioural segmentation.

This type of segmentation divides the market into groups according to customers’ lifestyles.  

It considers a number of potential influences on buying behaviour, including the attitudes, expectations and activities of consumers.  If these are known, then products and marketing campaigns can be customised so that they appeal more specifically to customer motivations.

The main types of psychographic segmentation are:

Lifestyle – different people have different lifestyle patterns and our behaviour may change as we pass through different stages of life.  For example, a family with young children is likely to have a different lifestyle to a much older couple whose children have left home, and there are, therefore, likely to be significant differences in consumption patterns between the two groups.  One of the most well-known lifestyle models, the “sagacity lifestyle model”, identifies four main stages in a typical lifestyle:

  • Dependent (e.g., children still living at home with parents);
  • Pre-family (with their own households but no children);
  • Family (parents with at least one dependent child); and
  • Late (parents with children who have left home, or older childless couples).

Each group is then further subdivided according to income and occupation. 

Opinions, interests and hobbies – this covers a huge area and includes consumers’ political opinions, views on the environment, sporting and recreational activities and arts and cultural issues.  The opinions that consumers hold and the activities they engage in will have a huge impact on the products they buy and marketers need to be aware of any changes.  Good recent examples include the growth of demand for organic foods or products that are (or are “perceived” to be) environmentally friendly

Degree of loyalty – customers who buy one brand either all or most of the time are valuable to firms.  By segmenting markets in this way, firms can adapt their marketing in order to retain loyal customers, rather than having to focus constantly on recruiting new customers.  It is often said that it is ten times more profitable selling to existing customers than trying to find new ones.  So the moral is – work hard at keeping your customers.

Occasions – this segments on the basis of when a product is purchased or consumed.  For example, some consumers may only purchase flowers, wine or boxes of chocolates for celebrating birthdays or Christmas, whereas other consumers may buy these products on a weekly basis.  Marketers often try to change customer perception of the best time to consumer a product by promoting alternative uses for a product.  For example, recently Kellogg’s has attempted to change the image of cereals to that of an ‘any time’ snack, rather than simply a breakfast meal.

Benefits sought – this requires marketers to identify and understand the main benefits consumers look for in a product.  Toothpaste, for example, is not only bought to maintain healthy teeth and gums, but also because of its taste and in order to help combat bad breath!

Usage – some markets can be segmented into light, medium and heavy user groups.






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