How Social Media and Mobile Devices Have Changed the Way We Segment

About six years ago I saw a demographer speak at a conference for natural food retailers and producers. He was trying to explain how traditional demographics did very little to explain actual buying and spending behavior.

Instead, he posited the idea that people participate in “worlds” or interest areas — one of which might include “natural or organic food” or “cycling” or “hiking” for that matter.

He wasn’t saying that interest areas weren’t around before, he was saying that there were better ways of grouping people on the horizon.  Well, the horizon he was talking about is here and in full swing.

A recent Mashable article proclaimed the “End of Demographics” and extolled the virtues of psychographics. This isn’t new to researchers, but what is new is the myriad ways that we can now collect this very powerful information.

Mobile Profiles and Panels:  You can buy a panel or you can create and build your own. If you can build a community via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, you can build your own panel and start profiling them. If you already have a rather large community, then you can use companies like GraphEffect to mine that data. There are free options as well for data mining. DiscoverText, for example, is a tool to analyze social media chatter.

Behavioral Information:  It’s no secret that past behavior predicts future behavior.  That’s why gathering behavioral based data as soon as close to the actual behavior is such a powerful predictor.  Use a mobile survey platform like SurveySwipe to see your audience in action.  With it’s location-based features, you can push a survey out to your audience when they enter a specific location. Another great behavior based feature that the SurveySwipe mobile platform has is the ability for your audience to take and send pictures! Respondents can add pictures to their responses and share how they are interacting with products.

Customer Life Style and Life Cycle Information: Demographic information might tell you if someone has children, but not how many and their ages. Even more, it won’t update this information over time.  Social Media psychographic analysis can give you this kind of information that runs deeper than just age or assumptions about age.

Why Psychographic Information is So Powerful

Psychographic information that’s gleaned from social media channels or mobile devices is valuable because it speaks more directly to behaviors that are relevant both to the person and to the researcher.

For example, people who purchase high-end cycling equipment can span all levels of the income, education and location spectrum.  But what holds them together is their love of cycling or the fact that they cycle at least ten miles per day.  It’s their behavior that will ultimately drive their purchasing.

If you’re still gathering psychographic information the old fashioned way, take the time to take a fresh look at exactly what type of information is available and what where this information is.  It is available to you at a lower cost and effort than you’d imagine.

Related posts:

  1. What We’re Reading: Mobility, Asking Why, Social Media Research
  2. Is Social Media Killing the Survey?
  3. Are Market Research Tools an Alternative for Social Media Haters?
  4. Budgeting for Social Media
  5. Intimate Moments and Social Media
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About Ivana Taylor

Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers, an online publication for small business owners who wear both the sales and marketing hat. You can find her at http://diymarketers.com.