Buying Patterns in Brand Marketing: The Weird World of Why

Waters needn’t be still to run deep. Shoppers, for instance, are visibly active creatures. Yet, when selecting products, the real motivating kick lurks deep below the surface. That’s where the real action is.  

How does a brand marketer probe those depths and connect with the action? The savviest are choosing the science of psychographics. A close cousin of motivational research, which emerged in the early 1960’s, psychographics deep-probes the real but hidden motivations that drive buying choices.  

The Psychographic Truth — Psychographics and demographics are miles apart. Demographics focuses on mundane statistical tidbits. You know — age, occupation, and location. Important to be sure. But only a surface scratch when targeting the real reasons why shoppers pounced on your fingernail rinse.  

In contrast, psychographics tackles the psycho-emotional hodgepodge that drives decisions. Ultimately, these drivers propel the buying engine. Bubbling within the psycho-realm are personality traits, interests and activities, and beliefs and attitudes – subject matter well beyond the scope of surface demographics. If you seek predictability in the field of buyer habits, psychographics is a must. Demographics alone often generates erroneous conclusions, misapplied ad budgets, and ruined weekends for many a marketer.  

Serious psychographic enthusiasts can mine info from two worthy sources. One is the tried and true interview. (Historical sidelight: This resource was extensively used by practitioners of motivational research. ) “Aha!” you exult. “That’ll be a snap. Just phone ‘em up and ask a few standard questions. Done.”  

Wrong. Effective interview questions are expert engineered to elicit a specific category of responses. It’s not enough to know a subject’s hobbies and interests. Psychographic questions plunge deeper to reveal the psycho-emotional forces behind the interests. No dull answers here. This is meaty stuff.    

A companion info source is, surprise – the internet. Web analytics is the key – a two-way connection to consumer motivations galore. Utilizing their favorite web tools, researchers can pinpoint the reasons for all those clicks and calls. Was it the freebies, mega-sale, contest, beachside barbecue? The answers provide everything you need for in-depth analysis and accurate consumer profiles.   

Brand marketers be warned — prepare for more than a few surprises. Duly extracted from the mental landscape, human motivations are anything but ordinary. At first glance, expect the unexpected and downright strange. Yes, the why can be weird. It also can be monumentally challenging. Because before graduating to motivational guru status, you must make sense of the data and draw actionable conclusions.  But that’s all part of the fun.  

If you have any questions or comments about the use of psychographics in brand marketing or any other brand-related topic, feel free to send them our way.  

You can connect with the Young Company team at 949-376-8404 #4033 or And be sure to follow us for the latest brand marketing news and tips.