Psychographics complete the picture

In response to demands from marketers, advertisers and media sales representatives for greater insights into the personalities and behavior of consumers, PMB Print Measurement Bureau has for six years included psychographic questions in its annual survey.The psychographic segments, drafted by Toronto-based...

In response to demands from marketers, advertisers and media sales representatives for greater insights into the personalities and behavior of consumers, PMB Print Measurement Bureau has for six years included psychographic questions in its annual survey.

The psychographic segments, drafted by Toronto-based research firms Goldfarb Consultants and Thompson Lightstone, provide pmb subscribers with a more complete picture of their target groups’ values, attitudes and beliefs.

Define target groups

When cross-referenced with the demographic and product profile segments of the pmb survey, psychographic results can be used by marketers to better define their target groups, by agencies to develop appropriate creative, by media planners to select the best vehicles, and by media sales representatives to support their sales pitches.

The questions, 71 in all, are divided into three segments.

The first section, provided by Thompson Lightstone, asks respondents how strongly they agree or disagree with 21 statements on products, pricing and advertising.

For example, one of the statements reads, ‘ `New and improved’ on packages is just an advertising gimmick.’

Principles, values, aspirations

The second section, a 19-question distillation of the 200-question Goldfarb survey, deals with principles, values and aspirations.

It asks, for example, how important to the respondent is their commitment to the work ethic.

A third segment, drafted by Thompson Lightstone, asks to what extent respondents agree with 31 statements about likes, dislikes and attitudes. A sample statement reads, ‘If a woman has the same job as a man, she should receive the same pay.’

Goldfarb Vice-President Allison Scolieri says information gleaned from the psychographic questions lends personality to the demographic data collected by pmb.

‘Historically, marketers have looked at target groups demographically – for example, women 18-49,’ Scolieri says.

‘Today, we know there are a broad range of attitudes of women in that age group,’ she says. ‘Demographically they are similar, but attitudinally, there are significant differences, and this is something that marketers want to be able to address.’

Ian Lightstone, director of Thompson Lightstone, agrees.


‘Psychographics gives you the mind-set,’ he says.

Lightstone cautions, however, that psychographic data should not be used in isolation.

‘I think that’s very dangerous,’ he says. ‘The two of them [demographics and psychographics] are heavily intertwined.’

Once the data have been collected by pmb, the companies begin classifying the responses.

Based on the answers to its product behavior questions, Thompson Lightstone segments pmb respondents into six types of shopper: cautious; non-demanding; convenience; price-/value-conscious; secondary; and born to shop.

It then uses the answers to the likes/dislikes/attitudes questions to segment respondents into six lifestyle categories: modern/ active; contented striver; traditional values; empty-nesters; insecure; and home-/family-oriented.

Finally, the company merges the product and lifestyle results for a single profile in which respondents are categorized as follows: passive/uncertain; mature market; home economists; active/convenient-oriented; modern shoppers; and traditional, home/family-oriented.

Each segment has specific characteristics.

Lightstone says modern shoppers, for example, are individuals who enjoy shopping for shopping’s sake.

He says they believe marketers are genuinely concerned about making better products, rather than getting them to try things they might not really need. Demographically, they are more likely to be female, young, and living in larger cities.

Similarly, Goldfarb uses the answers to its questions to divide pmb respondents into six groups, some more traditional than others.

The more traditional categories include day-to-day watchers; old-fashioned puritans; and responsible survivors. Less traditional groups include disinterested self-indulgents; joiner-activists; and aggressive achievers.

Scolieri says the resulting segments have implications for creative and media selection decisions.

‘If the target group is old-fashioned puritans, this would have a distinct impact on the tone of the advertising,’ she says.

Something familiar

‘They would want something familiar, something that did not suggest change. The whole concept of `new and improved’ is wasted on old-fashioned puritans.’

‘At the same time, if a high proportion of the target group are joiner-activists, you would not use a traditional style of advertising. Joiner-activists are challenging the status quo. They are seeking change. They don’t like to rest with the way things are.’

Scolieri says psychographic results can also be applied to the selection of media.

‘Certain groups tend to be oriented to certain types of media,’ she says. ‘Older groups can be reached effectively through television. Joiner activists, on the other hand, read a lot of magazines and listen to fm radio.’

As well, the results can be used to determine selection of specific types of programs and specific sections within newspapers and magazines.

Finally, psychographics can be used by media suppliers to support their sales pitches.

‘If they can demonstrate that a particular program or publication appeals to a higher than average proportion of a psychographic segment, it can provide added ammunition,’ Scolieri says.

Thompson Lightstone charges a one-time fee of $200 or $1,500 for one year’s unlimited access to its psychographic data. Goldfarb’s fee is $2,000 annually.