Here is a great example of why we need to stratify users by psychographics rather than demographics when we do our user research or testing.
For those of you not familiar with the term, psychographics are attributes that describe a person’s attitudes, values, and behaviors – in contrast with demographics that describe age, gender, and income. Many studies have shown that user behavior and experience depends more on their psychographics than their demographics. But demographics are so much easier to ask, so we stick with them. How many articles have you read that look at male v female users or old v young users? The reality is that there is a much more meaningful difference between users who are price-focused v prestige-focused, regardless of their age or gender.
This HBR article has a great example because it focuses on a purchase that doesn’t happen very often so the data available to base any targeting or stratifying strategy on is pretty sparse. Life Insurance. Whether you want to test out a web interface for comparing policies or a marketing strategy to sell them, finding the right targets is important.
One nugget of wisdom they mention is that people who have bought standby power generators are good targets to buy life insurance. It is not that they are both high-income groups. It is more that they are both risk-averse groups. They prefer to protect themselves proactively from problems. They are more likely to have all kinds of insurance and second refrigerators.
They are also more emotionally engaged in the shopping process, which is a key part of UX design. When we are designing for this group, considering the emotional component is key. This is more relevant to the success of the design than characteristics typically associated with different gender groups or age groups or income groups.