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Psychographic variables can be used as part of a larger method of grouping consumers. However, a psychographic profile alone does not provide sufficient data for predicting consumer behavior. The reason is that consumers are influenced more strongly and more consistently by traditional demographic factors (i.e. age, income, gender) than they are by psychographic factors such as attitudes and beliefs.
Psychographic variables are those values, beliefs, attitudes, and lifestyle choices that constitute personal psychological identity. These variables are central to a person's sense of self, and we often refer to these variables when justifying our consumer behavior. We tend to identify strongly with the psychographic factors that describe us. Think of all the heated debates around politics, religion, and dietary choice; people are highly vested in their identities as politically liberal or conservative; vegetarian or vegan; healthy, religious, environmentalist, etc.
Because we identify so strongly with these factors, we strive to act in ways consistent with them. Marketers can induce certain behaviors by leveraging this desire to remain consistent. A classic example is gym membership. The majority of new members do not frequent the gym nearly enough to justify their membership fee. Yet members rarely cancel their gym membership, even after months of non-usage, because they understand themselves as healthy, fit, and active people. Canceling membership would be contradictory to this constructed identity.
Psychographic variables can help marketers learn how to speak their market; how to establish brand loyalty through effective marketing messages. In general, identifying psychographic variables helps marketers understand the psychological processes behind consumer behavior. This type of broad understanding can be useful in a number of marketing situations and environments.
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