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Psychographics can be defined as a qualitative methodology used to describe consumers on psychological attributes. Psychographics have been applied to the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. While psychographics are often equated with lifestyle research, it has been argued[who?] that psychographics should apply to the study of cognitive attributes such as attitudes, interests, opinions, and beliefs while lifestyle should apply to the study of overt behavior (e.g., activities). Because this area of research focuses on activities, interests, and opinions, psychographic factors are sometimes abbreviated to 'AIO variables'.
Psychographic studies of individuals or communities can be valuable in the fields of marketing, demographics, opinion research, prediction, and social research in general. Psychographic attributes can be contrasted with demographic variables (such as age and gender), behavioral variables (such as purchase data or usage rate), and organizational descriptors (sometimes called firmographic variables), such as industry, number of employees, and functional area.
Psychographics is often confused with demographics, where historical generations may be defined both by demographics, such as the years in which a particular generation is born or even the fertility rates of that generation's parents, but also by psychographic variables like attitudes, personality formation, and cultural touchstones. For example, the traditional approaches to defining the Baby Boom Generation or Generation X or Millennials have relied on both demographic variables (classifying individuals based on birth years) and psychographic variables (such as beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors).
When a relatively complete profile of a person or group's psychographic make-up is constructed, this is called a "psychographic profile". Psychographic profiles are used in market segmentation as well as in advertising. Some categories of psychographic factors used in market segmentation include:
Psychographic can also be seen as an equivalent of the concept of "culture" when it is used for segmentation at a national level.