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January 18, 2004




Your job as a marketer, should you choose to take it, is to generate preference for your brand among prospective customers.  More specifically, you need to generate the kind of preference that results in the achievement of the Marketing Objective and, ultimately, leads to brand loyalty.  But the only way  we can generate preference is to really know our target and define the target in such a way that reflects this understanding and, in turn, leads to the development of a winning brand positioning and/or selling proposition.


Demographics, the standard by which most targets are defined, aren't enough.  They neither tell the whole story nor, in most cases, the most important part of the story.  Demographics are just so much statistical data that gives little way to real meaning.  After all, we can certainly appreciate that Johnson's Baby Powder will be targeted at moms 18-39 with children from infant to, say, four years of age.  So what?  So will all competitive baby powder brands.  At most demographics can assist us in identifying category prospects and developing a media target.  But we need something more.  We need something that will help us identify those moms who, and understand why they, will pay 40% more for Johnson's Baby Powder.


In the pharmaceutical arena citing the physician's practice and patient's primary condition are used most prominently and frequently in the target definition.  They're analogous to consumer marketers' use of demographics.  So is the practice of specifying "high prescribing physicians."  However, these fail to provide us with any real insights into driving preference.  Instead, we need to turn to and get a handle on psychographics to add an important dimension to targeting.


Psychographics get at the mindset of the target group.  Getting at psychographics is getting to know more about to whom you are marketing.  You may notice that time and time again the key sales reps are the ones who understand their customers best.  This works in marketing too.  The more you know about prospective customers (at least the relevant stuff) the more meaningful your marketing and communications strategies and initiatives will be.


We all know that "you can't be all things to all people."  We need to identify a specific target we can win, and create a single-minded message to strike a responsive chord with them.  We need to segment.  Psychographics play a key role in segmenting the market.  Within a broad demographic there can be many different psychographic segments.  Stated another way, a psychographic segment can span many demographic segments -- so don't worry about niching your brand.  Demographics represent data whereas psychographics give us insights into how and whose target customers think and believe.  As such, they are also a pretty good predictor of behavior.


French's mustard illustrates our point.  It's been around for nearly 100-years.  You probably know it in America as the bright yellow mustard.  But today French's offers three different kinds of mustard.  In addition to yellow there's spicy brown and Dijon and honey.  Why?  According to an article appearing in the Chicago Tribune, "you really are what you eat," different psychographic profiles (i.e., market segments) have different tastes.  Josh Shapiro, category manager with French's Foods is quoted in the article as saying, "the Yellow mustard (user) is fun, inclusive and family oriented.  Dijon is lightly more sophisticated and likes to cook.  A brown mustard user is serious about a good meal and a good sandwich."  You don't think we're trying to say you are what you eat, do you?


Well, yes, and not exactly.  There's more.  We are also telling you that who you are tell us what you are likely to eat.  How did we get there?  It's the psychographics!  Psychographics are a pretty good predictor of behavior It's a segmentation we can better understand whom to appeal to and how to fashion our appeal.


Think different(ly)!  Go beyond demographics to determine psychographics and use this understanding to define the target.  Apple does.  The Apple Computer Company targets a psychographics profile to differentiate its brand versus IBM-clone competitors (e.g., Dell, Compaq, etc.).  The psychographic profile is prominent in their print campaign which features people like Francis Ford Coppola.  What do we know about Mr. Coppola?  He thinks different(ly)!  He is highly creative, a dreamer, entrepreneur and a risk taker - among other things.  He is representative of a psychographic target that Apple finds attractive.  It's a psychographic profile that Apple feels it can win.  So they use it in positioning and from it comes unique computer products and messaging that is aspirational to the target.


The Apple psychographic segment probably uses computers to, well, create -- or, at minimum, inspire creativity or even badge the customer as "creative".  By create,  we are not talking about simple word processing.  Oh no.  That's what people who use IBM-clones do.  Come to think about it, the IBM-clone customers are probably pretty well satisfied with their computers for simple word processing, emailing, etc.  We know we are.  But we are also somewhat envious of those whom we perceive as creative types who use Apple.  Imagine what we can do with an Apple.  Imagine what you can do by adding psychographics to define your target.

 Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney


Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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