Psychographic variables

Today psychographic factors also play an important role in buyer’s decision. These factors refer to life-style & personality. Psychologists tell us that an individual’s behavior is a function of these two factors. Life-style would refer to the beliefs, attitudes, interest and opinions that an individual has about him, his family and the world. Put in other words, it’s the individual’s way of living in the world as reflected by his attitudes, interests and opinions. Contemporary researchers show that even though two customers may share common demographic characteristics, the two may differ significantly in terms of their life –styles Hence, a product or a brand positioned for customers like them may not be bought by one of the customers because he or she may not perceive the brand or product as suiting his or her life-style. Life-style portrays the whole person interacting with his or her external environment. It is more than just a social class.

The marketer needs to be aware of these life-styles in his target market .He may choose to position his product to suit a life-style of an achiever or a royalty or as provided by the VALS framework developed by Arnold Mitchell of SRI International .According to this framework people can be categorized into nine groups.

They are:

1.Survivors- These are disadvantaged people who tend to be despairing, depressed and withdrawn.

2.Sustainers- are disadvantaged people who are valiantly struggling to get out of poverty.

3.Belongers- Are individuals who are conventional, conservative, nostalgic and unexperimental and who would rather fit in than stand out.

4.Emulators- Are ambitious, upwardly mobile and status conscious; they want to make it big.

5.Achievers- Are the nation’s leaders, who make things happen, work within the system and enjoy good life.

6.I-am-me- Are people who are typically young, self-engrossed and given to whim.

7.Experimental- Are individuals who pursue a rich inner life and want to experience directly what life has to offer.

8.Socially Conscious- Are those who have a high sense of social responsibility and want to improve conditions in society.

9.Integrate- Are men and women who are fully matured psychologically and combine the best element of inner and outer directedness.

This categorization of individuals is based on the assumption that each of them goes through various stages of development, and each stage affects their attitudes, psychological needs and behavior. As mentioned earlier while describing Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs, each individual goes through survival needs (survivors and sustainer)to affiliation and esthete (belongers, emulators, achievers) to more inner-directed needs (I-am-me experimentals and societally conscious)Very few of us reach the integrates level.

Marketers direct their products and brands to the affiliation, esteem, and inner-directed needs Consider, for example the positioning of Gwalior suitings using Nawab Pataudi, Sharmila Tagore and their son. Consider Raymond’s suiting ads showing their Managing Director Mr .Vijayapat Singhania, wearing their suit lengths, after a successful solo flight. Once again, Citibank Diners ad positioning the card at emulators and achievers illustrate the life-style of contemporary times.

The next psychographic variable is personality—this refers to traits that we exhibit in our relationship with others It also refers to psychological characteristics of individuals that lead them to be relatively consistent as they respond to their environment .Based on these explanation, people are described as warm,loving,caring,outgoing,extroverts,introverts,aggressive,non-responsive,confident,etc.Personality again provides a useful understanding of consumer behavior and products can be designed to suit different personality profiles. The sales person has to adapt his or her personal selling style to the customer’s personality.

Thus, in contemporary marketing, psychographic factors play a more important role than just the demographic variables. In fact, tomorrow’s marketing in India will be an increasingly life-styled marketing.