Demographics, Psychographics, Synchrographics – What the Heck are They?
Are you amazed that retailers seem to know just when you have special needs and send you a direct mail piece with exactly the right product at precisely the right time?
The way, for example, every baby furniture retailer in the area, every disposable diaper company in the United States, and the marketing department at Parents Magazine, all know to put special offers in your mailbox just as you arrive home with the new baby. How do they do it? They’re not psychic, they’re just using one or more of the ‘-graphics’ – demographics, psychographics, synchrographics.
All marketers use research to help them target likely customers – our “target audience” – and we sometimes spend a lot of money to identify them. The way to do this is to group people by similar characteristics so that we can develop marketing programs that will be highly appealing to large groups. That way we get maximum bang for our marketing bucks – which translates into more money for the bottom line.
The most common way to target customers is through demographics – grouping people by characteristics such as age, sex, race, income, educational level, home ownership, employment status, or geographic location. A Mercedes dealer, for example, would be more successful targeting their 500-Series automobiles to people making incomes of over $100,000 a year than to those making under $40,000.
But what if you could drill down to even more specific information about your target audience? Wouldn’t that make your marketing efforts even more efficient? You can, and it does. This method – called psychographics – breaks down the target group even further to categorize people by attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, lifestyles, and opinions. This is what allows that Mercedes dealer to trim its target market to people who are most likely to buy that 500-SL. They not only go after people making over $100,000 a year, they also aim for those who live a ‘Mercedes 500-Series’ lifestyle. After all, there are a lot of people in the $100,000 a year bracket, but their personal values may have them driving a Prius or only American-made cars. It makes sense not to market to those folks.
What about that last method – synchrographics? The newest of the three, this one provides data about consumers related to the timing of significant life events. This is especially useful in direct marketing, because the need or desire for a product can be predicted to happen in conjunction with certain events. The major life event of having a baby is a perfect example, and businesses take advantage of this very successfully.
But can sychrographics also work for that Mercedes dealer? You bet. We know a corporate marketing officer who takes his annual bonus and buys a new car every year. His local Mercedes dealer knows just when bonus time rolls around and sends the fellow a letter, backed up by a phone call just at the right time, offering him a special deal on a new car. So every year, he buys a new Mercedes. If the Lexus dealer in town used synchrographics, maybe they could lure him away. But until they do, Mercedes will continue to profit.
The bottom line is that the more we know about our customers, the more we can tailor our products and services – and our marketing – to their needs. So don’t let the cost of research information turn you off. Sometimes it’s the most profitable thing you can do for your marketing.