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The quest to learn more of what motivates consumers to make purchase decisions has prompted many companies to embrace a tactic called psychographic profiling. While demographics may tell you what the customer looks like, psychographics can tell you why the customer buys. This information is critical and can save a company from wasting marketing and adverting dollars on incorrect audiences and messaging.

While sometimes misused and not universally accepted, companies from the healthcare industry to financial institutions to consumer product businesses are using psychographics to better define their niche in the marketplace.

Today psychographic profiling is often referred to as developing a “customer personas” and is often used to “dumb-down” the understanding of a target’s attitudes and lifestyles into a one-person “typical customer.”

Psychographic targeting has been around for over thirty years and ad agencies and companies with a large stake in a product’s image have been the biggest utilizers. For example, if the image of a cosmetics manufacturer’s ad or product package design is not in sync with their customers’ self-image, they will not form the crucial marketing bond that becomes a company’s franchise.

A great example of a company using psychographics is Polaris (Zodiac) Pool Systems, a manufacturer of swimming pool vacuum-sweep equipment. Through psychographic profiling, they know their customers are more apt than most pool owners to entertain guests at their home, drive luxury German automobiles and/or will pay more to get the quality products they feel they deserve. Why does Polaris care about such things as how often their customers entertain? It enables Polaris to talk in a language and style that is readily understood by their target audience. Their messages and language resonates effectively enabling Polaris to be more successful motivating their target customers to take actions that result in positive sales volume. Polaris used the consulting services of Jeff Anderson Consulting, a La Jolla and La Quinta based company to obtain this type of detailed information.

With the scrutiny of dollars being spent on product packaging, marketing and advertising today, it’s more critical than ever to capture correctly and effectively ones’ target audience in a way that will deliver results and impact a company’s bottom line. By taking an additional step beyond the world of demographics into psychographics, companies can achieve a higher return on investment for their efforts.