Can the psychographic variable be used to group consumers according to needs or responses that differ by lifestyle, activities or interests?

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Karyth Cara eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Psychgraphic Variable in Market Segmentation

Psychographic variable in marketing segmentation--grouping of consumers having similar characteristics in one or more categories--is defined as combined psychological and demographic variables that can be used to identify and target consumes (individuals) who are similar to one another in definable ways.

Psychographic segmentation has demonstrated its use as a practical marketing tool in consumer markets. In general more than one type of variable is used to build the segments, and demographic data is usually needed, mixed by psychographics. (Marketing Consultants, 2010)

Psychgraphic segmentation has three large sub-groupings, with further sub-groupings in one:

  • Social Class, alternately, Motives (Williams)
  • Lifestyle
  • Personality ("Psychographic Segmentation In Practice")

Social Class: This is a large social and economic division of society that relates to and, in fact, determines to a large extent the needs, expectations, loyalty, price sensitivity, usage and attitudes of consumers within various social classes. The typical market divisors of social class include:

  • family background
  • wealth
  • personal income
  • education
  • occupation

Family background, education and occupation work together to determine personal income or level of wealth and consequently determine social class. Social class is often identified by the levels of work-to-income:

  • lower lower class and upper lower class, also called the subsistence class
  • working class
  • middle class or skilled working class
  • upper middle class, also called lower middle class
  • lower upper class, also called middle class
  • upper class, also called upper middle class ("Psychographic Segmentation In Practice")

There are alternate labelings dependent upon whether the upper class is considered obsolete and the lower classes correspondingly considered as merely subsisting in the economic theory at play in the demographic designations being assigned (choices of designation may also vary by country).

Motives: This category is alternately used by some marketers rather than social class. Since it comprises differentiators like "personal appearance, affiliation, status, safety, and health" (Williams), it functions in much the same way as "social class" does: it identifies the socioeconomic factors that effect how a consumer can be targeted by market segmentation.

Market segmentation is "divided according to consumers’ reasons for making a purchase [including] ... personal appearance, affiliation, status, safety, and health, [which] are examples of motives affecting the types of products purchased and the choice of stores in which they are bought." (Williams)

Lifestyle: This is a segmentation of individuals according to "how they spend their time, importance of things in their surroundings, beliefs about themselves and broad issues, and some demographic characteristics" (Kaylene Williams, "Chapter 10 - Lecture Outline"). Sub-groupings under lifestyle include activities, interests, and opinions. Some marketing experts expand that list further:

  • activities
  • interests
  • opinions
  • attitudes
  • values ("Market Segmentation")

Thus clearly marketers do target groupings (segments) of individuals (consumers) based on "lifestyle," which is a subcategory of "psychographics" that includes activities and interests as well as other designators.

Personality: This is a means of segmenting consumers based on personality characteristics that are a match between the consumer and the product being branded. Producers select positive personality characteristics of the consumer segment they wish to target their product to and associate the branding personality of that product with the personality traits of the target consumer segment. This facet of market segmentation naturally has relevance to and some overlap with concepts in product branding. To illustrate "personality," imagine you have a new product for active water skiers. You select--from the consumer segment you wish to target--the personality characteristics of "energetic, fast-paced, adventuresome" and you brand your new product with these personality characteristics in mind. For example, perhaps the product spokesperson will be an Olympic swimmer (energetic); perhaps the product logo will be a lightning bolt(fast-paced); perhaps the product introduction will be at a volcanic lake in Africa (adventuresome): you have endowed the product with the targeted personality characteristic and have associated the product personality with the personality traits of the consumer segment targeted ("Psychographic Segmentation In Practice").

It can be seen that one of the important functions of market segmentation is to use the psychographic variable to group consumers according to needs or responses that differ by lifestyle, which is a subgroup of psychographics that includes activities and interests among other differentiators.


"Psychographic Segmentation In Practice." Marketing Consultants, Businesswise LTD. 2010

Kaylene C. Williams, Ph.D. "Chapter 10 - Lecture Outline." California State University, Stanislaus.

"Market Segmentation.", Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, Inc.

personal income or wealth, occupation, education, and family background

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