The term “psychographics” dates to World War I, when it was used to describe people by their looks. Psychographic segmentation parses humanity into different groups based on variables such as values, attitudes, and lifestyles (ever hear of VALS, developed by Arnold Mitchell in 1978?). Any good marketing researcher will explore a
number of segmentation approaches—psychographics, demographics, purchase
behavior—to find the one that provides the most marketing leverage.
I helped to create perhaps the most extensive global psychographic segmentation approach ever—Young & Rubicam’s 4Cs, or Cross Cultural Consumer Characterizations. We basically took Mitchell’s VALS I and took it global. While based in London I did extensive work on the UK program, and conducted the pilot studies in France and Spain. I wrote country-specific questions, developed the algorithms, and developed consumer profiles—while applying all of it for my client, Ford of Europe. Ford was launching a new type of vehicle, the minivan, and we used 4Cs to identify early adopters across Europe. Needless to say, the minivan caught on.
4Cs is still used in Europe. Go here.