Psychographics: The future is here

By Katharine Carlon

They know who you are, what you like, what you buy and what motivates you. And thanks to the rise of psychographic profiling and the increasing amount of data consumers willingly share, they will soon be able to market to you more directly than ever before.

Psychographics – the granular study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, lifestyles, and buying and spending habits – has taken the marketing world by storm, allowing companies and organizations to target their messages to smaller and more individualized segments of the population seemingly by the day. The skillful use of psychographics has been credited as a major factor in President Donald Trump’s surprise win last November; it also landed Facebook in hot water recently for appearing to allow ads forensically tailored to fans of hate groups.

Josh Krakauer

Josh Krakauer, founder and CEO of Iowa City-based Sculpt, said psychographics are a powerful and effective tool for marketers seeking to understand the consumer they’re targeting based on multiple data points, including individual buying habits and social media likes. While demographic data assumed consumers sharing similar ages, incomes, zip codes and relationship statuses would also share similar needs and wants, psychographics add information, allowing marketers to reach an increasingly target- rich pools of customers.

“There is just an incredible amount of information about what you try and buy online, your likes and preferences,” said Mr. Krakauer, who believes we are just in the beginning of psychographic profiling’s potential to individualize sales and marketing. “The next tier is going to be mixing offline data with online data as more technologies that already exist start to share their data and become connected. … A perfect example is the rise of voice technology like [Amazon’s] Alexa. People are having conversations with a device about things you buy and that information can be shared.”

Mr. Krakauer said Apple’s Face ID was another example of a technology that could be attached to individuals as part of their profiles and combined with other psychographic data.

“There’s a reasonable expectation other technologies could use that to scan your face when you’re walking into places and say things like, ‘Hi Josh. We know what you like and what you want. Let us guide you through the store,’” he said, adding that such a fully interactive stroll through the mall is no longer the stuff of movies. “I believe that’s what’s coming.”