Psychographic Segmentation

This article discusses psychographic segmentation, along with some thoughts about how this technique could be applied to the camera market. While this article may be coming out of left field for some readers, it may be fun to see which psychographic segments resonate with you.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Photographs have been added to serve as visual breaks.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/2.8 IS PRO, @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-1600, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

What is psychographic segmentation?

Psychographic segmentation is a type of marketing research methodology that is used to study and divide consumers into segments using psychological characteristics. These can include such things as personality traits, lifestyle choices, social status, favourite activities, as well as attitudes, emotions, interests and opinions.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/400, ISO-200, subject distance 950 mm

How does psychographic segmentation differ from demographic segmentation?

Demographic segmentation is focused on specific traits such as gender, age, income level, educational background, work classifications and the ownership/use of specific products.

Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO-1600

Why do some companies use psychographic segmentation?

Psychographic segmentation can provide a deeper understanding about consumer behaviour. Learning how people think and feel about various facets of their lives, and how those thoughts and feelings impact their purchase decisions can provide powerful marketing insights. When done well, psychographic segmentation can be effectively used to help form strong emotional bonds between products/brands and consumers.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 370 mm, efov 740 mm, f/8.7, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2001 pixels on the width

Practical limitations of using psychographics

The objective of using psychographic segmentation isn’t to pigeon hole people into nice, neat boxes, but rather to identify groupings of common behaviours/emotions etc. The likelihood that an individual  will fit exactly into a particular segment is infinity small . The vast majority of people will exhibit a combination of traits with some being stronger than others in a particular individual. From an executional standpoint the objective is to target a small number of  traits that best match the attributes of a specific brand, product or service.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, with 16 mm and 10 mm Kenko extension tubes, Hand-held Hi Res Mode, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-5000, subject distance 260 mm

Generic versus customized psychographic segmentation.

A number of research organizations have done a lot research to identify and quantify generic psychographic segments. These are most commonly used in consumer markets. It can be much more cost effective to use generic psychographic segments, rather than making significant investments in proprietary, custom research.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, 1/320, f/7.1, ISO-6400, subject distance 1.9 metres

While in corporate life I had the opportunity to develop a proprietary psychographic segmentation strategy. This led to a radically different business-to-business marketing approach and helped the organization increase its market share from 16.5% to over 27% during a 7 year period.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/1000, ISO-2500, subject distance 215 mm

What could psychographic segmentation look like in the camera market?

A few years ago I developed the basic outline for some psychographic segments in the camera market. These were based on my personal observations and were not confirmed through quantitative research. I thought it may be interesting to share these psychographic segments with readers. Perhaps there are specific segments with which you identify on a personal basis.

Olympus TG-5 @ 10 mm, efov 55.6 mm, f/4.5, 1/80, ISO-800

The Pragmatist

Many professional photographers would fall into this attitudinal segment. These are folks who view photography as a business. They are all about being efficient and profitable. Their camera gear is a means to an end. They seldom become emotionally attached to their gear.

They don’t care about having the latest and greatest camera gear. They are interested in service life, durability and reliability. They want ‘good enough’ image quality to meet the needs of their paying clientele.

They look at overall system cost, reliability, and maintenance. Once invested in a camera brand and format it would take a significant competitive advantage for them to switch brands. Special trade-in assistance on the value of their current gear could help to move The Pragmatist over to a different brand.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-3200, subject distance 2.9 metres

The Creator

This segment wants leading edge technology so they can push their creative envelope further. Their photography may be an income generator, but their hallmark is the innovation they bring to their work. New imaging technologies are of significant interest to them.

Outlandish and creative photographs are important to them. They have a need to be seen as creative innovators and visionaries when it comes to the work that they produce. They love to break existing boundaries with their work and they can be quite innovative working in post.

They will switch brands once they are convinced that the change will give them new and different creative capabilities that will help them expand their creative vision.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/1600, ISO-1250

The Technology Owner

This segment is more concerned about how their camera gear is viewed by others than by actually using it. They are motivated by what they read in formal camera reviews.

Having the ‘biggest and best’ is a prime motivator. When out with their camera they spend more time showing it off to other photographers than actually using it. They are well versed with camera specifications and are prepared to debate minute equipment differences with other photographers. They are the most likely to switch brands, often following leading edge technology, or pursuing products in the ‘bigger is better’ category.

The Technology Owner will initiate conversations about what equipment  someone is shooting with, so they can use that as an entry point to talk about their own gear.

Dark Hedges Northern Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 18 mm, efov 48.6 mm, f/8, -1 step, 1/400, ISO-400

The Self-Challenger

This segment is interested in being able to photograph subjects that they have not been able to do in the past.

A big part of their photography is about self-development and pushing themselves to accomplish more with their existing camera gear. Once they achieve a specific photographic goal, they search for the next challenge. They’re driven by internal challenges, and have little interest in competing with others.

Being able to do things with their camera gear that other people are unable to accomplish is important to them from a perspective of personal growth and achievement. They are not particularly interested in ‘image perfection’ and put a much higher value on capturing an innovative or difficult image rather than the absolute best optical quality of the image.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2500, ISO-6400, subject distance 23.3 metres, cropped to 4692 pixels on the width

The Perfectionist

This segment strives for absolute image quality above all else. They are proud to be pixel peepers and go to great lengths to educate themselves on the technical aspects of photography.

They will debate complex technical aspects of photography and these folks represent the most educated segment in terms of their technical understanding of optics, image processing, physical attributes and a host of other detailed aspects of photography.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4123 pixels on the width, subject distance 100 metres

They view photography from more of a scientific perspective. They are skewed to camera gear that can produce the finest quality images and as such would favour medium format and full frame camera gear.

Some camera reviewers seem to assess camera gear from this perspective as they often identify small details as being problematic with particular makes and models of cameras. It can sometimes be difficult for The Perfectionist to differentiate between a mountain and a molehill.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 100 mm, efov 270 mm, f/8, 1/8, ISO-160

The Searchers

Photographers in this group have the least amount of knowledge about cameras and photography. They are unsure about what to buy and use. Some are afraid of making the wrong decision.

They are the most likely of any of the groups to read camera reviews and do extensive research on camera brands. They will make conferring decisions with friends and associates. Impacted by the opinions of others they often regurgitate common beliefs, whether factually accurate or not.

Not wanting to make ‘the wrong decision’ they are most likely to follow widely accepted norms and would be somewhat skewed to cropped sensor cameras, or less expensive full frame models. They are skewed to buying the most popular and well known camera brands.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-2000, full frame capture, subject distance 5.9 metres, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking

Once in the camera market they are the likely to use their camera gear only to a modest amount. They will not initially buy many additional lenses and will tend to use the kit lens(es) supplied with their camera.

Of the six groups identified they are the most likely to give up their cameras if they experience regular frustration with camera use and ownership. In these instances they will revert to using their cellphones in the future.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/6.7, 1/1250, ISO-2000, 16 mm extension tube used, cropped to 3509 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H mode

As you read the about the psychographic segments did any of them resonate with you? Do you know other photographers that you would place in any of these psychographic segments? Is it your impression that certain psychometric segments would be skewed towards specific camera brands?

Based on your experience with this website, do you have the impression that the content found here is targeted to any specific psychographic segments? We have two primary target segments and a third of somewhat lesser importance in our psychometric segmentation strategy.

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.  Crops are indicated. Photographs were resized for web use. This is the 1,137 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 272 mm, efov 734 mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-1600

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6 thoughts on “Psychographic Segmentation”

  1. Very interesting article & I probably fall into 2 or 3 of the groups. The title certainly did get my attention.
    I am interested in latest technology as I like to photograph wildlife & BIF.
    Because of age & restrictions on air travel I have switched from FF to m4/3. I have not regretted the move at all. Yes, I had to learn a new system, but I find it interesting & am getting great images. As we get older, we all need something to stimulate our brain cells. The Olympus menu certainly does that, at least for me.

    1. Hi Forrest,

      I think many readers will relate to 2 or 3 of the segments. 🙂 Like you, it took me some time to get used to the Olympus menu system. I haven’t missed moving from full frame gear either and much prefer using smaller, lighter camera gear.


  2. An interesting article and I am sure a lot of our Club fall into one or other of the categories. Who have you targeted? I can see myself in two /three of these and it has made me start to think a little more about what and why I love the hobby of photography. I enjoy the technical side, I enjoy the creative side, I enjoy the self-challenger side too. I think a few members are perfectionists and indeed make a mountain out of a molehill. They also have the very best/expensive equipment and yet do not share their expertise to those aiming for a better image . Thanks for a very thought provoking discussion paper.

    1. Hi Brian,

      I’m glad you found the article of interest, and that it stimulated a few thoughts.

      You happen to self-identify with our 2 main target segments… that’s encouraging for us as it indicates our segmentation strategy is working with at least some of our readers.


      1. That’s why I am enjoying reviewing all your posts etc.. Your style interests me and the subjects are right up my alley. I am talking to my fellow group members and have sent your link to each of hem. So far, their comments, to me, reflect my thoughts as we are in the same age brackets – 60-80 years old.

        1. Hi Brian,

          Thanks for the additional exposure and recommendations to your other group members. It’s the support from readers like you that keep our website growing by attracting new subscribers and readers.


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