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3 Ways Psychographics Will Shake Up Your Incentive Program

April 10, 2018

For years retail marketers have tailored their communications strategies based on demographic data. The arrival of the digital era offers the chance to dive deeper, asking questions about why your customers behave the way they do and the ability to plan accordingly. David Jones from Blackhawk Network explores how this change will impact how you should communicate, engage and ultimately motivate consumers to create a more positive customer incentive experience.

By David Jones, General Manager, Digital & Incentive Divisions for Blackhawk Network


For years retail marketers have relied heavily on demographics to define, motivate and engage with current and prospective customers. It’s a simplified approach, but for profiling an audience, it has long been the best information available for understanding that audience. The arrival of the digital age has changed that, ushering in a wave of in-depth customer data that goes beyond broad generalizations about consumers. 

If marketers want to improve the depth of their consumer experiences, they need to leverage the deep insights this psychographic data provides, using it to interact with their customers in new ways. This data creates a powerful opportunity to examine why an audience behaves a certain way or has certain preferences. This ability, in addition to a continued understanding of who that audience is (based on demographics) can help marketers more effectively reach and engage with their shoppers.

Here is a look at three ways psychographic data can impact how you should communicate, engage and ultimately motivate consumers, creating a more positive customer incentive experience.


Transform participant data into deeper insights

Consumers today demand personalized, targeted rewards and offers. An effective incentive program can meet those demands using psychographic information to offer relevant rewards delivered in a way that aligns with consumer preferences. A recent report by Salesforce found that most consumers, especially younger consumers, are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers, discounts or shopping experiences. Incentives like rebates, loyalty, thank-yous and other rewards can provide retail marketers with tremendous data opportunities. When consumers are willing to share personal information while submitting a rebate or using a loyalty card, that data can be gathered to compile a wealth of insights.


Using deeper insights to motivate action

Using the demographic and psychographic insights they’ve gathered, marketers can create user personas for customers that will provide a clear and detailed view of their specific preferences and behaviors. For example, a recent study by Hawk Incentives found that 42 percent of surveyed consumers feel smart when they find the best deals, and deal-seeking behavior was not limited to any specific range of household income. Retailers could use that information to target the customers who fit that profile and present a rebate offer at the right time to sway a purchase decision in their favor. This approach gives a customer the emotional satisfaction that comes from having found the best deal while also enabling the collection of data by the retailer to help promote future purchases and boost sales.

In the end, the benefit of data-driven personas is the ability for marketers to fine-tune their incentive programs, ultimately to cater to consumers more effectively. Once marketers understand who their customers are and what they love or hate, they will know how to more effectively reach them in-store, online or on their mobile devices, as well as how to motivate or reward them.


Forecasting for future audiences 

Knowing customers’ general age range, salary and location are still important, and there are certainly valid demographic segment preferences. But using demographics alone could lead to an entire demographic being targeted identically. Take millennials, for example. Pew Research recently declared that anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018) is considered a millennial. Using this demographic data alone, a marketer might be using the same incentive strategy to target a married executive who is also a mother of two and a recent college graduate who is moving back in with his parents.


Looking at psychographics and other key indicators like address changes, appliance purchases, first purchases of higher-value goods, etc., offers a more accurate view into new customer preferences and behavior and is more predictive. By looking at the current behavior of the recent college graduate, marketers are more likely to be able to identify, and thus target, the future preferences and behaviors of college students.

Whether an organization is large or small, creating opportunities to gather psychographic information in addition to demographic data can aid in creating a retail incentive program that provides a positive customer experience. Marketers can rest assured knowing they’re reaching, engaging and motivating the behavior of their customers effectively because their program directly reflects the attitudes and preferences of their audiences.