Experiential events: why psychographics matter

Psychographics conceptualise the storytelling behind events for attendees who are looking for engagement with brands.

Psychographics delves into delegates’ areas of expertise and the challenges they face.
Psychographics delves into delegates’ areas of expertise and the challenges they face. Photo Credit: Adobe stock/Vitalii Vodalazskyi

Psychographics, a research tool that refers to the study and classification of people according to their attitudes and aspirations, is becoming increasingly valuable to event professionals, helping them to understand how attendees feel and what their intentions are.

With attendees expecting more experiential elements and touchpoints, events are now rarely ‘one-size-fits-all’ executions. Psychographic audience data, such as priorities, concerns, purchase behaviours, opinions, activities and interests, can help build these experiential elements and touchpoints.

Mindy Hanzlik, director of experience & engagement at BCD Meetings & Events said a sea change in culture, where people want to feel seen, respected and known for who they are, means attendees are now used to engaging with brands and experiences that reflect how they see themselves.

“They pay more attention when they see a relevant connection between their ideas/opinions/values and the message being delivered,” she said. “And ultimately since events are about connection and ROI for events is about action – you’re more effective when people are truly listening and participating. By incorporating psychographics into your event design you are more likely to harness the potential of face-to-face events.”

Increased targeting

Sophie Holt, managing director at event insights specialist Explori, said examples of elements that make up psychographics include ‘what are my areas of expertise’, ‘what are my uncertainties’, ‘what are the challenges I am facing’ and 'what are my intentions around purchasing?’

“Psychographics can change quite quickly, driven by external factors or even your event itself,” said Holt. “You might create content that changes purchase intention or which fills a knowledge gap. It can have a big financial impact for event organisers as well - not only can you create more relevant content, because you know [delegates’] fears and challenges, but you can also better target sponsor content. You can identify not just job title and budget but also those who might be more receptive to that content.”

For Pardeep Kainth, senior director of account services at Invnt Group, curating a brand experience or event without any back-up of psychographics is almost like taking a (very expensive) stab in the dark.

“This is why brands are now even investing into neurological studies on what creates brand affinity/love memories and moments for their audiences,” he said. There’s great benefit in utilising audience data surveys, feedback from previous events, surveys, focus groups, research papers, and consumer insights tools to create meticulously-detailed events that are tailored to the specific behaviours of your target audience.”

Emotion in action

Without the use of psychographics, he adds, it is hard to conceptualise the storytelling behind a brand experience, and without a brand story that resonates, it is hard to form any memorable emotional connection with the end delivery of the experiential engagement. Emotional connection should never be underestimated - this is what transforms an event into a brand experience, and this is what will help build customer and brand love in the long-term.

Hanzlik said psychographics can be a hard nut to crack. To do it well, taking time in getting to know the people attending the event is required, and a longer runway may be needed to customise the experiences offered onsite.

“You need to be ready to make significant changes to your agenda flow, invest in tech tools that can facilitate interaction and audience engagement, and rethink the setup of your event spaces to build the environment that will be comfortable for your attendees,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition, but your budgets may need to be reimagined to make room to incorporate these changes, as well.”

Kainth cautioned that if psychographics are being used to shape the strategy of a brand experience, it is important to consider the size and scale of the event. For example, using psychographics for a conference with hundreds of attendees will have a risk that niche psychographic data may be unapplicable to each attendee.

Another thing to note is that for events catering to a broader, wider span of audiences, psychographics should be used more as a general guidance. This will help avoid the risks associated with over-segmenting one’s target market and losing sight of the bigger picture.