Psychographics vs. Demographics

Both Demographics and Psychographics information play an important role in market research. They both provide insights into the customer and are fundamental inputs to a business’s marketing strategy. In fact, the ability to mine demographic and psychographic information has given rise to the Long-Tail Economy.


Demographics have long been the standard for identifying the characteristics of your target audience. Demographics are measurable characteristics of an entire class or target market, including items such as age, race, gender, income, religion, education, etc.

However, sometimes demographic measures do not provide an adequate level of data to target a potential prospect. For example, consider that you have an advertisement-supported website that provides tips for skiers. Audience demographics will not provide any really meaningful market segmentation. Skiers can be men or women, young or old, rich and not so rich, so skiers cross almost all demographic measures.


Psychographics is the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles.

Psychographics are less measurable characteristics and can represent either profiling at a national level or be attributed to a single person known as psychographic profiling. Increased computing power and repositories of large data sets of consumer information have propelled data mining to a whole new level.

Today, nearly every product sold has a UPC code, and most purchases are made using some form of either electronic payment (credit/debit cards) or loyalty cards that connect the exact purchase identified by the UPC code of a product to a specific person- including their home address. These billions and billions of transactions exist in big-data sets and can be mined to provide a single psychographic profile for an individual, or for an entire class of people.

One excellent psychographic tool is the Lifestyle Database included in ReferenceUSA, which can often be found at your local library for free. The way the lifestyle database works is it tracks hundreds or purchasing categories,. hen a person spends more than the median in a category, that category is included in their profile. The following is an example of my profile in the ReferenceUSA Lifestyle database and is a pretty accurate representation of things that are important to me based upon my spending habits.

Here are also a few other tools that might also be available at your local library or academic institution to access psychographic information:

Not only can you get specific psychographic information about a single person, but you can also combine your psychographic data with more traditional demographic information to create a very specific list of targeted customers. Political campaigns and many businesses use demographic and psychographic profiling to conduct microtargeting campaigns to convince consumers to consider what they have to offer.

How can you use demographics and psychographics to help you better target your potential customers?