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Psycho What? Psychographics and Market Segmentation

customer experience
December 2019

Attracting new residents and retaining current ones is no easy feat in today’s apartment market. Residents and prospective residents are more demanding and discerning than ever, and they come from five different generations.

In the race to compete and stand out, apartment communities are relying less on traditional physical amenities like resort-style pools and state-of-the-art fitness centers, and more on providing great experiences.

Some, for example, are bringing farmers’ markets and food trucks onsite, embracing charitable activities and even giving residents access to sommeliers, according to Alexandra S. Jackiw, Chief Operating Officer at Hayes Gibson Property Services.

“Experiences have become a huge component of what we do,” Jackiw said. “But how do we know what experiences to provide? We can’t just throw things up against the wall. That’s where psychographics come in. Psychographics can put you ahead of the competition.”

Jackiw made these comments in her “Psycho WHAT? Psychographics and Market Segmentation” presentation at NAA’s Apartmentalize, during which she outlined how operators can gather and use psychographic data.

Demographic information—age, gender, income, marital status and ethnic background—describes the customer. By contrast, psychographic data provide insight into why consumers make the buying decisions they do, shedding light on their lifestyles, values and behaviors.

To collect psychographic data, operators can use a variety of methods, Jackiw said. These include individual, in-person and over-the-phone interviews as well as customer surveys and questionnaires distributed via email, social media and community websites.

In-person or over-the-phone interviews should contain no more than five questions, according to Jackiw. “That’s kind of the limit for people psychologically,” she said.

Community website analytics, social media analyses, focus groups and third-party research data also can provide operators with valuable psychographic information.

Once they’re armed with quality psychographic data, operators can put the information to widespread use, Jackiw said.

Aspirational messaging can be particularly effective with today’s prospective residents, Jackiw noted.

“Psychographics helps you determine not only who your customer is, but who they want to be,” she said. “People don’t lease an apartment for its own—they lease it to solve their problems. Aspirational messaging allows prospects to envision how your community can not only improve their lives in an immediate, problem-solving sense, but also how your apartment homes can help them become the people they want to be.”

As for email blasts, Jackiw urged attendees to take care when crafting effective subject lines, pointing out that personalized subject lines reportedly increase open rates by 50 percent. She also cautioned operators to make sure their email templates are optimized for mobile devices. Unfortunately, only 11 percent of templates are, she added.

Psychographics can help to:

  • Create more refined social media audiences
  • Write emotionally compelling ads.
  • Identify new content topic areas for corporate and community websites
  • Improve conversion pathways on websites
  • Reinforce brand values
  • Create more targeted and more relevant email marketing blasts
  • Revisit and update customer profiles
  • Effectively use aspirational imagery and messaging