I went to a research presentation the other day. It shared the findings of a reasonably detailed qualitative exercise looking at refining a potential target audience for a new product launch.
There was nothing wrong with the research itself. It seemed pretty robust, gave a useful insight into the way in which people might use the product, and actually quite an interesting observation on an unexpected occasion for which the product might be relevant.
The bit that I found interesting/frustrating was the audience description. It was summarised into a psychographic profile of the audience, detailing those key behavioural traits that distinguish them from the population at large. The researcher presented it with due enthusiasm, the client spoke about it as a valuable springboard for creative and media development, and the agencies (creative and media) looked at each other in a slightly bemused fashion. It all kind of made sense, but there was just nothing meaningful in it. They are the kind of descriptions that seem to mean something until you look at them a little more closely (much like the lyrics of Coldplay, the books of Deepak Chopra or interviews with Bono). They are of the ‘enjoys foods from other countries’, ‘ family and career are both important’ and ‘enthusiastic about technology’ variety. Which don’t really represent a springboard at all. They don’t tell you anything of substance, and they certainly don’t distinguish people in such a way that you feel you could write specifically for that audience. They’re so broadly true, so completely generic, as to be meaningless.
So I want to start a running list of useful psychographic descriptors, the things that actually describe a meaningful trait that brings a person to life.
I start with ‘men who wear Oakley sunglasses with a suit’. And, “people who use the word ‘nifty’’