Most marketers use consumer demographics (easily identifiable and measurable data) when determining and appealing to their target market. In addition, many marketers recognize that understanding consumer lifestyles and personalities are crucial in target marketing. However, too many companies do not place enough emphasis on the latter.

Here is a synopsis of the situation from Alexandra Samuel, writing for the Harvard Business School:

“Marketers are used to thinking and speaking in demographics, since slicing a market up by age, gender, ethnicity, and other broad variables can help to understand the differences and commonalities among customers. Think, our target audience is 14- to 34-year-olds,’ or ‘we are launching a campaign aimed at urban Latinos.’ But psychographics, which measure customers’ attitudes and interests rather than ‘objective’ demographic criteria, can provide deep insight that complements what we learn from demographics.”

“Until recently, it was harder to get psychographics than demographics, and even if you had psychographic data, it wasn’t always obvious how to make it actionable. The Internet has changed the relative importance of demographics and psychographics to marketers in three key ways: by making psychographics more actionable, by making psychographic differences more important, and by making psychographic insight easier to access.”

To learn a lot more from Samuel, click on the image.

Chart by Laura Schneider for HBR


13 Replies to “Demographics Versus Psychographics”

  1. I think companies should focus more on psychographics rather than demographics. As everyone would like to show off their own style and attitude of life, everyone wants to differ from others. Online shopping is so convenient for us, we can buy anything online, and demographics is not a huge issue as decades ago. So psychographics works better than demographics.

  2. I find this article particularly interesting because I want to go into market research. Most research is conducted by demographics but it would be really interesting to see who psychographics can play a role. They do seem more important especially since the point of marketing is to get the consumer to see how the product will fit into their every day lives.

  3. Classifying customers according to age, gender, race and other categories, demographic seems like a little easiness, and which can’t be enough effective to segment customers in today’ business world. However, psychographic segmentation divides market into groups based on social class, personal characteristics and lifestyle. This method also can imply why social media is a main battleground to appeal to, to analyze and to classify consumers

  4. I believe that it is a trend and progress for marketers’ focus from Demographics to Psychographics. Just like make big data to small data, psychographics studies bring marketers to a deeper level of understanding target customers. Also, I think psychographics is a better way for marketers to find the niches.

  5. Demographics are commonly used by marketers to analyze with the data being presented to them, it is easier to group different consumers into various categorizes such as age, gender and race than grouping consumers according to “psychographically”. Furthermore, grouping consumers according to their psychological behavior is much more difficult as it is time costly, too much individual data and data being obtained might not be useful at all for times. However, I believed the data that the firms obtain psychologically from the customer will be much more beneficial compare to data obtained demographically as they are more detailed and “REALLY cater to the needs” of the consumers, but the question is whether it is worth it or these data are useful for the future growth of the company?

  6. Demographics have been used by companies as a way to separate the market by age, gender, ethnicity, and other variables. Although this is a great method for companies, I feel that psychographics can greatly improve the process. Rather then using the variables of demographics, psychographics measure customers attitudes and interests rather than the objective. With reading this article, I believe that psychographics is a better way in measuring data because it is the interests of the customers that is most important.

  7. I think demographics make customers as different groups and separated by age, gender, etc. For example group ABC, A like sports, B like music and C like travel, and without consider the difference inside each group. And today within the internet, companies can easily identify the different style of each customer, and this is psychographics. Psychographics would become the main method for most situations because it will more close to customers and know what they want, rather than simply provide what their group want.

  8. I think this case is very interesting, and I also think demographic is very important in marketing. Once you’ve considered the key demographic factors, you can begin to assemble a customer profile, a more focused statement that describes your target market in detail. Data always is a strong supporter when you make decisions about issues.

  9. Although I haven’t really heard the term psychographics, I do know that it will get a company further by focusing on interests and attitudes rather than race, age, and gender. Due to the fact that now a days society has changed the way people think, people will want things that they are told they can’t have. For example gender related items are becoming less of a big deal as can be seen by companies such as Target taking off the title “boys” or “girls” from the aisles. There is always some viral post on the right to pick whatever you like. That means not all races have to dress the same or all genders have to dress the same or have gender restrictions. Overall, the idea of psychographics seems like a good way to get a better idea for companies on who to market for.

  10. I couldn’t agree more with this article about how important it is to include consumer lifestyles and personalities when businesses are trying to appeal to their target market. But I feel demographics are just as important, or even a little bit more important. Having a mixture of both with a good balance can target the consumers the best because they will be able to understand and know their audience better.

  11. Demographics are definitely something to take into consideration when in marketing. In marketing, you want to appeal to the consumers and their needs and or wants. So by focusing on demographics, i think marketers will get a better understand of their consumers and essentially determine who their target market is.

  12. With so many people having growing and varying interests the use of psychographics as opposed to standard demographics can help marketers come up with even greater strategies to appeal to a specific target market. While many people who share age, gender, and ethnicities do have a lot in common they have individualized characteristics that demographics does not entail. Understanding psychographics provide means for a more interpersonal relationship between consumers and businesses and can greatly expand the future of marketing.

  13. It’s an interesting concept because obviously demographics are a huge part of how companies market and identify with their audiences. Psychographics, on the other hand, are interesting because it identifies the attitudes of people and is a lot more specific than demographics. It’s kind of like quantitative vs. qualitative research. Quantitative in this case would be demographics because it just provides a general standard answer for a particular topic. Qualitative on the other hand would be psychographics because it is a lot more in-depth and takes a closer look at the interests of the person/group of people.

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