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The psychographics of software.


In software marketing circles, DRK president David Kasabian is widely known as the creator of many of the industry's most effective ad campaigns and package designs. we discovered recently that Kasabian is also the developer of a remarkably insightful marketing model that he describes as a typology of computer users." Models like Kasabian's are becoming increasingly interesting to software marketers, usually because a good model helps explain the often quirky and unpredictable behavior of real customers.

In fact, Kasabian's model starts by focusing on how people feel about the products they buy. "One of the fundamental principles of consumer marketing," Kasabian says, "is that people don't just buy products for rational reasons. Instead, they respond to a mix of rational and emotional appeals. And the appeals that drive the sale are often very different from one type of buyer to another."

Kasabian began putting together his marketing model in 1983, drawing on emerging "psychographic" techniques for measuring such factors as the buyer's self-image, work style, attitudes toward technology, and tolerance for risk. Kasabian's original concepts were largely intuitive, he says, but the model has been fine tuned with the help of research data, focus groups, and feedback from DRK's software clients. This definitely isn't some kind of witchcraft," he says.

As part of the model, Kasabian has created a series of profiles of typical customers, with names like "techno-driven super users" and "advanced pragmatists." Kasabian stresses that his profiles describe ideal buyer types, not real people or market segments. Real people have multi-dimensional personalities, so the same person will sometimes respond to different kinds of appeals, depending on how they feel about the product itself."

Using Kasabian's psychographic model, software customers can be divided into the following major categories:

Outer-Directed Mass Drivers: A small but highly influential group, Kasabian's "mass drivers" are the people who evaluate and often buy products for tens, hundreds, and thousands" of other users. Mass drivers include MIS professionals, certain business owners and department heads, and LAN managers--people who tend to be "very knowledgeable about products, but who buy or recommend products for the use of others, not for themselves."

One of the hot buttons for mass drivers, says Kasabian, is the high visibility of their product choices. Mass drivers must justify their decisions in public, and they're blamed or praised for the outcome." Mass drivers like to see lots of information that will help justify their decision, Kasabian says, and they often respond well to appeals that emphasize risk-related issues (for example, Banyan's ads about "Things They Don't Tell You at Novell Presentations").

Mass drivers also tend to think strategically, Kasabian says. They tend to ask questions about the cost of supporting a product and how it's likely to affect the organization as a whole. These issues are often more important to mass drivers than specific features or performance."

Kasabian's mass driver category includes two key sub-groups, each of which reacts very differently to organizational issues. "Trench diggers" tend to be negative about the impact of new products; they wait until they are brought a problem" and adopt the least risky solution. By contrast, "scanners" actively look for products and technologies that "create opportunities for their organizations, and they are willing to take the risk of bringing in stuff that's new."

Opinion Drivers: Another influential group, says Kasabian, is "opinion drivers"--writers and analysts who have no direct buying power, but who "bring enormous influence to bear on the market." Like outer-directed mass drivers, this group is especially sensitive to its own public visibility. But opinion drivers generally don't look at how new products affect a particular organization; instead, they have a fantasy world view of how computing ought to be" and respond to appeals based on technology direction and completeness of features.

Techno-Driven Super Users: Unlike opinion drivers, super users "have a genuine affection for computing," says Kasabian. They use products themselves, they seek status from technology, and they're hungry for new information. Techno-driven super users have an especially romantic view about the product as hero." They focus on power, he says, and they enjoy reading complex charts about features and performance.

Object-Driven Super Users: This sub-group of super users also loves new software, says Kasabian, but they ask themselves, What can I achieve with this product?"' Object-driven super users are especially interested in looking at printed output or other examples of the kind of results the product can produce.

In general, Kasabian says, both types of super-users "are an excellent entry point for really new products. They are the first people to bring a new product into their companies, and they're willing to pay a premium for what they want. If they can afford it, they'll buy it."

Advanced Pragmatists: Kasabian's "advanced pragmatists" are the backbone of most mature market categories. Technology by itself doesn't interest people in this group; rather, "they want to know if the product is cost effective, if it solves a problem, if it's worth the effort to get up and running." Kasabian says that advanced pragmatists respond well to positioning statements that emphasize control and productivity," brand reputation, and external validation, such as reviews and awards.

Kasabian also points out that advanced pragmatists aren't exhaustive shoppers--they'll buy the first thing that solves the problem." They prefer to buy at retail (or through direct mail, if "they know and trust the source"), so it's important to make the product as accessible as possible.

Seekers: Because they are newcomers--to computing, or to networks, or to a specific product category--"seekers" are generally "highly impressionable people," says Kasabian. They tend to believe everything they hear, and they suck up information from many sources, including advertising, salespeople, and more experienced users." Seekers like products that have a positive brand image, so they're often won over by strong retail packaging.

Satellite Users: Many of the people who inhabit the fringes of computing are "satellite users"--"occasional keyboard touchers, often middle-aged or older, who feel there's something about technology that's out of sync with themselves." However, says Kasabian, it is possible to capture the attention of satellite users for very simple, non-threatening applications. "Right now, e-mail and low-end financial programs are changing the habits of people in this group, so they can be reached."

David Kasabian, president and creative director, DRK Inc., 101 Sununer St., Boston, Mass. 02110; 617/542-5848.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Soft-letter
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:the psychographic marketing model of DRK Inc.'s Pres David Kasabian identifies the major categories of software customers
Date:Jan 31, 1992
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