Think of a yourself as a 25 year old, new reality & responsibilities, striving to make your mark in the world, changing lifestyle & evolving circle of friends. Then envision yourself as a 5o year old, maybe by now grandparent, more set in your ways, with defined interests and lifestyle, likely taking few meds to cope with aging and more health conscious, probably less “connected” to the world than your kids…

So, what could these two versions of yourself have in common as a consumer? Now think of a 5o year old who’s circumstances, mindset & means allow him to live “young” and a conservative 35 year old who is more Baby Boomer than GenXer…

What do these two consumers have in common? The answer is psychographics, the process of target profiling through emotional and lifestyle variables, rather than just by age, gender, education, income and place of residence.

I recently read a quote by Richard Branson that illustrates the point… “To succeed in business you need to be original, but you also need to understand what your customers want”. In branding “needs” are rational, “wants” are emotional. You need a car, you want a Mercedes Benz. You need a computer, but you want a Mac. In brand selection, the link between consumer emotions and brands create engagement and preference.

Through time I’ve seen and worked for brands that became successful when they got emotionally connected by redefining their promise and delivering on an required experience, while remaining the same product. Emotional drivers have always been used to crete engaging content. Nevertheless, digital has changed the media landscape from push to pull, making psychographics highly relevant in media planning too. While traditional media remains highly relevant in elderly consumers and now-events like sports & news, the shift in screens and selective consumption of content requires us to know sentiments, interests, lifestyle, attitudes, values and aspirations for efficient media placement today.

There are several ways to understand psychographics, observation and informal conversations, using your database, webpage and social/digital-media data to collect insights, or conduct modelled consumer research. In structured research, the key is to define expectations and select the right method. While quantitative models are best for statistical analysis of behaviour, the format renders them mostly ineffective in helping understand the reasons why behaviours are adopted. In brand strategy, understanding “why” is the important premise, since the “what” is a recollection of a historical event for consumers.

Spending some time with your customers, watching them use your product in their consumption environment while conversing, small qualitative sessions with a flexible questionnaire, moderated by skilled, informed and insightful people are methods better suited to understand behavioural drivers. In essence, precisely defining your targeted consumer and understanding his motivations towards your category and product is what allows brand’s to be moulded into relevancy. This blog post was written by Fernando Alcázar, Partner and Strategist for SGA. It is intended to present a point of view that can help you improve your brand’s performance. If you want to start a dialogue, please share, comment or email me at falcazar@sajogarcia.com.