The origins of psychographics can be traced back to behavior research in the 1960s, which was prompted by efforts to establish a connection between personal life-style variables and consumer behavior. Psychographics is used to categorize consumers into groups based on their psychological profile in order to examine their behavior.
Wells (1975) provided the broad definition for psychographics as a qualitative research tool designed to distinguish consumers on psychological grounds, rather than on demographic principle. Such definition match the 20th century practice of applying the psychographics method, which uses multiple groups of variables. These include activities, interests and opinions (also known as the AIO battery), personality features, life-style and attitude measures, as well as beliefs and values.
There are various systems for consumer categorization which divide potential customers into seven groups of psychographic profiles:
The Belonger group. People categorized in this group tend to stick to their friends and family, as they need to belong to a community. Approximately 40 percent of the people in the United States are profiled as Belongers. People matching the profile have strong nationalistic attitudes and they are not fond of changes. Such people are conservative, especially as regards their religious beliefs. Belongers tend to stick to a certain brand after they have tried it once. Their consumer behaviour is usually based on personal relationships, therefore merchandisers have to invest some money and time to get to know them well.
The Achiever group. This comprises a relatively small proportion of a country's population. For example, in the United States between 5 and 7 percent of the population are profiled as Achievers, who control up to 95 percent of American money. People categorized in this group run successful businesses. Day-to-day behavior is driven by a hunger for power and wealth. Achievers may be described as workaholics and unlike Belongers, they prioritize individualism and prominence. They do not like wasting their time shopping and they always buy the latest technological innovations.
The Emulator or Wanna-be group. Such people are not Achievers, although they would like to be. An Emulator aims to look like an Achiever and the attention of the opposite sex is very important for him or her. Emulators tend to buy things that look expensive but they cannot afford the luxury cars or hi-tech gadgets of Achievers. Therefore such people may be interested in fakes and copies of luxurious brands of watches and cloths. Emulators usually try to resemble celebrities and they copy the appearance of their idols in order to gain popularity among peers and the opposite sex. Emulators suffer from low self-esteem and they seek approval. People profiled in this group are usually below 30 years old.
The Socially Conscious group (types A and B). The main driver in the consumer behavior of this group are the environment-friendly ideas the potential benefits for the society as a whole. These people recycle and drive bio-fueled cars. They support charity causes and help the poor and disadvantaged. The main difference between types A and B is that type A is optimist about the world's future and believes people can make a difference. Type B, on the other hand, has completely lost faith in people and usually lives in small closed communities.
Balanced/Totally integrated group. People matching the balanced profile are the smallest group. They are Achievers with a socially conscious mind. Their success is based on the goal to make the world a better place. Such people may have started out as true Achievers but at some point realized the cost for their success. The so-called ‘repentant sinners' embrace noble causes in order to heal their own guilt. People in the Balanced group, however, could be driven by purely philanthropic ideas. The first group would spend money on something that brings a kind of redemption. Philanthropists, on the other hand, would give money for causes the humanity would benefit from.
The Needs-driven group. People in this group buy things as the need arises. Although they are usually poor, needs-driven people would not do the shopping rationally, but instinctively, thus often buying at a higher price. Such people would pay for offers advertised with slogans like ‘last chance' or ‘one-time offers.'