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Inspired by HBR: How Psychographic Segmentation Boosts Patient Loyalty


Have you noticed the latest Snickers advertising campaign? The brand is introducing new flavors aligned with personality traits. Indecisive? Choose Snickers Salty & Sweet. Irritable? Try Snickers Espresso for a quick boost. Wimpy? Spice up your attitude with a Snickers Fiery.

The campaign just started in June, so its effectiveness remains to be seen, but the behavioral science behind the marketing is sound. And for hospitals, specialist clinics, medical practices, and other healthcare-related organizations, the use of psychographic segmentation—classifying consumers based on how they think, feel, and act—can help strengthen patient loyalty in healthcare.

What is personality-based marketing?

Recently, the Harvard Business Review took a closer look at personality-based marketing, noting “Personality insights and other aspects of behavioral science offer opportunities to better connect with individuals, and if done ethically it can be beneficial for consumers and businesses alike.”

The article also emphasizes that in certain sectors, such as healthcare, strengthening engagement based on a patient’s beliefs, motivations and communication preferences can lead to better health outcomes.

The practice has been under a microscope since news of Cambridge Analytica mining Facebook data to target users with political ads. Rather than being manipulative, however, ethically-conducted psychographic segmentation offers benefits for both patients and providers.

And healthcare providers don’t need to scour social media and analyze mountains of data to gain insights into patients—a simple survey can uncover valuable information about how patients think and what motivates their behaviors.

For example, the c2b Consumer Classifier uses just 12 questions—such as “I believe alternative/holistic/natural medicines are effective for helping maintain my health and wellbeing,” or “I will go to the doctor at the first sign of health concerns”—to segment individuals as a Self Achiever, Balance Seeker, Priority Juggler, Direction Taker or Willful Endurer. Each segment has a unique approach to healthcare and wellness with different motivations and communication preferences.

Based on these personalized insights, providers can communicate with and engage patients more effectively and patients benefit from improved health outcomes. Such was the case with TriHealth System in Cincinnati, Ohio, which uses psychographic segmentation to boost engagement and satisfaction in health coaching.  

By understanding that Balance Seekers need choice, but Direction Takers need — you guessed it — direction, the coaches could modify their approach with individual patients, resulting in more positive interactions with patients and greater success for patients in achieving health goals.


Using psychographic segmentation to innovate and inspire

Psychographic segmentation of healthcare consumers also empowers providers to develop messages and new services that resonate with current and prospective patients, driving growth and patient retention over time.

Take a newly introduced suite of programs called the Health Motivation Platform, introduced by the American Heart Association (AHA) for patients interested in preventing heart disease or improving adherence to cardiovascular disease care plans. The AHA is enhancing its content and CarePlans with  the proprietary c2b psychographic segmentation model and the PatientBond digital patient engagement platform to influence and engage patients based on their attitudes about health and wellness.

The AHA programs currently include Condition Management, Health Enhancement and Readmissions Reductions solutions. Patients who join the programs received highly-targeted messaging and CarePlans that speak to their unique psychographic segments. The programs’ use of interactive digital messaging allows the AHA to evaluate each patient’s level of engagement, communicate based on each patient’s health-related motivations to influence behaviors.  

As the HBR article noted, “The scientific evidence is consistent and clear: one can increase the effectiveness of marketing messages and other types of persuasive communication by tailoring them to people’s psychological profiles.” Imagine how more targeted messaging and relevant services could help your healthcare organization inspire loyalty with patients.

As the healthcare marketplace changes and expands, healthcare consumers have more choice—and you face more competition to retain your existing patients while bringing in new ones. By leveraging psychographic segmentation, you can create more holistic, satisfying patient experiences that encourage loyalty and deliver better health outcomes.

Driving patient loyalty in healthcare is more complex than selling candy bars, of course, but maybe it’s time to inject some unique “flavors” in your patient communications.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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