Market Segmentation

What is Psychographic Segmentation? A beginner’s guide.


Psychographic segmentation is how marketers learn to position their products so that compatible customers can “discover” them. It’s how brands find the right customer match based on customer attitudes and lifestyles.

You may not realize it, but psychographic segmentation is the primary driving factor in your life.

It determines who your friends are, who you marry, the career path you choose, where you buy a home, where you go to church, and even aspects as mundane as the movies you watch. It’s the invisible hand that guides most of your decisions. That’s because psychographic segmentation determines who you allow into your life and which social circles you desire to enter.

You constantly analyze other people to learn if they are compatible with you. Before you decide to date someone you scan their personality to determine if they are a match. When you select a college major, you consider the traits of workers in that field to decide if you fit in. Even when you simply pick a movie, you watch the trailer to test whether the characters are interesting to you.

These are all examples of psychographic segmentation, or the process of grouping people based on lifestyles and personalities.

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For marketers, psychographic segmentation means selecting the most likely buyers based on their interests, activities and lifestyle choices. Psychographic segmentation is increasingly important today as consumers group themselves into smaller and smaller “interest tribes” such as Iron Man athletes, Game of Thrones fans, BBQ smoker cooks, Fortnite players or social justice warriors. It is also easier now to use psychographic segmentation as a tool because people signal their interests via social media.

In the past, marketers could rely primarily on demographic segmentation like age, income, gender or family size to find buyer matches. But today, demographics alone fail to give a holistic picture of your segment.

The right way to start your psychographic segmentation is to conduct research about the interests and hobbies of your customers. This is a fairly easy step because the methodology is straightforward and, for the most part, people are willing to talk about their interests. You may want to ask about:

  • Sports
  • Music
  • Recreation
  • Volunteer groups
  • Activities with their kids
  • Activism
  • Media preferences
  • Values
  • Opinions about current events
  • Brand preferences
  • Personality types (introvert vs extrovert is always telling)
  • Travel
  • Professional and networking associations

Once you see the patterns in the interests of your customers you want to pursue, the next step is to identify where your customers congregate. Some options may be:

  • Magazines
  • Facebook groups
  • Podcasts
  • Reddit communities
  • Music festivals
  • Professional and networking associations
  • Video games
  • Sporting events
  • TV and radio
  • Charitable organizations
  • Tourist locations
  • Blogs

The world’s greatest brands are masters of psychographic segmentation.

  • Patagonia understands environmentally conscious outdoor enthusiasts and trekkers
  • Harley Davidson taps into the psyche of riders including their image, attitude and bucket-list trips
  • Snapchat understands youth and their interest in “vanishing” content
  • Microsoft intimately knows what business people in specific industries need to succeed
  • Comic Con connects with fans by making them part of their favorite show, not just watching it

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