Although the customer data that most businesses accumulate are factual, the view that this process provides is flat, one-dimensional.
The flat view
Traditionally, businesses base their customer segmentation schemes on current conditions, such as the size, income, age, and ethnicity of various target populations; estimates of their consumption and loyalty; and information about their locations, lifestyles, needs, and attitudes. Demographic data enable classification. Geographic data enable distribution and reach. Tracking purchasing behaviour or employee performance evaluations is historical.
Complex software and advanced technology in themselves do not add more dimensions to this view. Traditional segmentation efforts today would be only a starting point.
Helpful as traditional segmentation efforts are, they run the risk of leading companies to chase customer groups with weak long-term potential, because they don’t factor in the impact of developing trends and the less tangible aspects of customer dynamics.
The future of customer data lies in uncovering the less tangible. Interest in psychographic data is growing. Psychographic data is not about classification. It is not about national representation. It does not lie in the past.
Instead, psychographic data is dynamic. It is evolving. It is personal. It adds a dimension to customer understanding.
We need deeper insight into what motivates and drives customer behaviour: What they are thinking, what they are feeling and why, and how this is connected to what they are actually doing. Otherwise our customer understanding will remain one-dimensional.
All customers are part emotional, and all consumption and job performance have an emotional component. Despite its fundamental nature, many companies fail to inject human elements into the business. Strong physics of a business – the right product, right price, right place and right time - can be ruined by poor psychographic connections – understanding emotions, creating trust, and demonstrating care and concern for the customer.
Even though psychographic data require advanced skill to measure, it is essential. In the future, companies will increasingly use such data as part of the broad continuum of measurements that they use.