Psychographics? Psychographic segmentation? What’s the obsession all about?

Your friends, your career path, purchase decisions and even mundane choices as the movie you’ll watch have all been driven by the invisible hand of psychographic segmentation.

“Psychographics speak more to an attitude, a lifestyle.” – Richard Hayne

Email marketers are always on the lookout for new and better ways to customise and personalise their email campaigns. The reason: increase in customer retention. While you may already use (as you should) a variety of demographics to help create the perfect customer profile, another method may prove even more effective – psychographics.

This article covers the following topics on psychographic segmentation:

  1. What is psychographics?
  2. What is psychographic segmentation?
  3. Psychographic segmentation variables
  4. Benefits of psychographic segmentation

Ready to dive in?

You are well aware of the importance segmentation bears for discovering and engaging leads and retaining subscribers and customers. While demographic, geographic and behavioural segmentation is all based on who the individuals are, psychographic segmentation is just as important (if not more) as it is based on who the individuals are as people

Confused? Wondering what the difference is?

Psychographics 101

Believe it or not, you are probably already using psychographics to create the ideal customer profile without even realising it. Unfortunately, more often than not, psychographics is frequently categorised as demographics. 

Let’s see what’s the difference.

Psychographic: Definition

Psychographics are essentially the demographics of personality. Instead of classifying individuals based on the basic facts of who they are (i.e. age, gender, race, income, etc.), it classifies them by how they think.

In more technical terms, psychographics help you study your target audience through the lens of their AIOs: Activities, Interest and Opinions. The better you understand your audience, the more you’ll start seeing trends in their values, attitudes, emotions, motivations, personalities and lifestyles which will then help you target your email campaigns better.

Psychographic marketing takes into account – 

  • what your audience values in life
  • pain points your target audience faces
  • why your leads, subscribers and customers act the way they do
  • how you can help your target audience in a way they’ll find valuable

Demographics and Psychographics

Before you start categorising your audience, you need to understand the difference between demographics and psychographics.

  • Psychographic Segmentation and Email Marketing | EmailOut.comDemographics: Your audience is categorised based on personal information such as age, income, gender, location and employment status. (Pro tip: Demographics are also used for email list segmentation.) 
  • Psychographics: Your audience is categorised based on more details such as personality, lifestyle, values, attitudes, interest and opinions. 

Using psychographics is admittedly less straightforward than using demographics. However, the insight derived from psychographics introduces an additional layer of value when creating detailed customer profiles and targeting your email campaigns.  

How To Gather Psychographic Data?

You need to look beyond the basic easily obtainable personal information you can collect and dig deeper into the data beyond the data. You can achieve that by using two approaches.


You already have some basic information about your audience. But, you want to get to know them better. What better way to do so than asking via surveys?

Surveys will help you improve your understanding of your target audience and gain in-depth knowledge of who they are to better target your email campaigns. When you ask your audience the right questions, you will learn people’s – 

  • personality
  • motivations
  • lifestyle
  • values
  • interests… and much more.

Pro tip: Customer feedback surveys are the perfect approach in diving into your audiences’ mind to see how you can improve your communications and products/services and get to know them better.


Quizzes + Psychographics = A Marketing Match Made In Heaven

Unlike an official customer survey, a (personality) quiz will offer a fun and creative approach to learning more details about your leads, subscribers, and customers. Ah, and let’s not forget the fact a quiz delivered through a personalised, relevant email campaign will show your recipients you want to get to know them better to deliver a more customised email experience.

What questions should a psychographic quiz include?

  • Activities questions: What do you spend money on? Where do you spend most of your time (when not at work)? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 
  • Interest questions: What are you most passionate about? What is your dream vacation? What do you constantly try to improve?
  • Opinion questions: What do you value most? You will never back down from…? What is your opinion on [your product/service/ different matter]? 

What Is Psychographic Segmentation?

Psychographic segmentation is the process of dividing your target audience into specific clusters based on individuals’ psychological traits and internal characteristics such as personality, values, interests, motivations, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, hobbies, lifestyle, etc.

Psychographic Segmentation Variables

Do you know what the different types of psychographic segmentation are?

There are three main psychographic segmentation variables you must know about and each has its subcategories.


Psychographic segmentation by personality involves factors such as peoples’ beliefs, morals, motivations, and overall outlook on life. Personalities can be divided into seven categories – 

1) Belongers: These individuals always want to fit in with family, friends and the community.  Rather than breaking the mould, these individuals strive to fit in and belong.

2) Achievers: These people are extremely ambitious, constantly busy, always needing to be productive and dislikes anything deemed  “a waste of time”. They tend to focus on material things such as buying luxury items to show their level of success in life and work.

3) Emulators: These individuals desperately want to be Achievers, yet they lack the resolve, skillset or work ethic to achieve their goals. Unlike Achievers, Emulators buy things they cannot afford or knock-offs to appear successful.

4) Saviours: Saviour complex? These people aim to achieve greatness for the world as a whole rather than solely for themselves. They are socially conscious and go out of their way to help the world around them, rarely asking for anything in return.

5) Doomsdayers: The complete opposite of Saviours. These individuals see nothing but doom, despair and destruction for the world. Doomsdayers march to the beat of their own drum, try to be self-sufficient and have strong opinions about almost everything.

6) Interrogators: Achievers + Saviours = Interrogators. These individuals strive to earn as much money as they can and then spend them on philanthropic causes rather than themselves. This is the most uncommon psychographic personality type. (Interesting fact: Bill Gates and Andrew Carnegie are Interrogators.)

7) Survivalists: This type of personality struggles in life living paycheck to paycheck either by choice or because they’ve been raised in an environment surrounded by poverty. They don’t spend money irresponsibly or haphazardly as they are in constant fear of losing everything.


If you want a more accurate insight into what people value and how they spend their time and money look no further than their lifestyle. Specifically, the three dimensions of their life – the AIO variables.

1) Activities: Focus on what your target audience likes to do. For example – 

  • what activities do people enjoy doing and spending money on,
  • how often do they enjoy and engage in those activities, and
  • how do they make purchases related to those activities?

Activities focus on your target audiences’ daily routine and hobbies. For example, someone who rides their bike to work and actively plays sports on the weekends will likely have different purchase patterns than someone who drives their car to work and prefers watching movies on the weekends.

2) Interests: A person’s interests can reveal concepts and ideals that drive their passions. Yet, everyone’s interests differ and vary. Once you know and understand this, you will be able to reinforce and strengthen your email marketing efforts to better appeal to your audience.

When you’re researching your target audiences’ interests start broad. When you begin to understand more about your leads, subscribers and customers, you can narrow down the research.

3) Opinions: We all have our own opinions. So why would your target audience be any different? A person’s opinion forms the baseline in which they determine if something is useful and important. It is a combination of – 

  • the degree to which something is logically important to a person’s life, and
  • a person’s deep-seated beliefs (or preconceived notions).

Your target audience will have strong opinions about everything and that can have a massive impact on their purchasing decisions and how they respond to your email campaigns. 

Social Status 

Every person in your audience belongs to a specific social class. Thus, when you are working on your psychographic segmentation, you must consider social hierarchy. 

Why? If your message targets the wrong social class, they will not be willing or able to make a purchase and will potentially ignore your email campaign.

1) Top Class: These people are the richest of the rich. They’ve either earned their wealth (i.e. know the meaning of hard work) or inherited it (i.e. never had to deal with any financial struggles and hard work). The ones who’ve earned their wealth don’t spend lavishly. The ones who’ve inherited it, tend to spend tons of money without consideration for price.  

2) Middle Class: People in this social class are divided into two subtypes – 

  • those who don’t squander money but can – and do – afford themselves (and their families) “the finer things in life”, and
  • those who can provide the basics (i.e. food, clothing, a roof over their heads, etc.) along with some occasional extras made after careful consideration.

Using psychographic segmentation will help you understand what email campaign to send to which middle-class type. 

3) Lower Class: People who belong to this social class are divided into – 

  • people who earn just enough to get by with no extra expenses, and
  • people who are either underemployed or unemployed.

The first subtype is always in defence mode and tries to work as much as possible to save as much as they can without spending on extras. The second subtype will spend what little money they have on bare essentials and, often, forego even the essentials.

Pro tip: All psychographic segmentation variables coexist and overlap one another. For example, a Survivalist would also be a member of the lower class or an Achiever a member of the top class.

The Benefits of Psychographic Segmentation

Psychographic segmentation gives you a much deeper, detailed and targeted view of your audience. If you’re still not convinced of the importance of psychographic segmentation maybe these top ten benefits will do the trick. 

1) it explores unique personal factors that drive people’s purchasing decisions
2) helps you understand your audience better and create a more holistic marketing approach
3) essential for uncovering the motivations and attitudes behind people’s decision making
4) helps you communicate the value of your product to multiple audiences
5) viable method for tracking – and analysing – consumer behaviours
6) it’s an extension of behavioural and demographic segmentation
7) helps you create more customer-centric products/services
8) helps you create more lasting email marketing strategies
9) it remains stable across time
10) high return on investment

Final Thoughts

Getting to know what your audience wants, how they feel and what motivates them may seem like a far-fetched telepathic skill. Yet, with psychographic segmentation, you can turn into a mind reader and create email marketing strategies and campaigns that will fit your leads, subscribers and customers profiles perfectly and address their needs and pain points on an entirely new level.

By combining behavioural, demographic and psychographic data, you can do wonders for your email marketing and business growth. A word of warning though… it’s not necessarily helpful to declare your product/service sells well with 30-somethings who “like” NSYNC on Facebook and share 90s memes on Twitter. You need to figure out what one’s actions and interests say about them psychologically, divide them into segments and then target them with personalised, relevant, beneficial email campaigns.

The point of psychographic segmentation is to build a picture of how people think, act, feel and what they believe in. It’ll require a fair amount of hard work to interpret your audiences’ responses and interest to determine useful psychographic patterns. It’s no walk in the park. However, once you’ve nailed psychographic segmentation, it is an absolute gold mine. 

Highly recommended further reading – 

1) Email Copywriting 101
2) Email Frequency 101
3) How-To: Email List Cleaning
4) Lead Generation Tips
5) Email Marketing Campaign Checklist (PDF version here)

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