03.13.09 Issue #366 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Scott McDonald
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Psychographics and Case Acceptance: A Scientific Approach

A patient sits in front of you in the chair. You have performed an examination, aided by radiographs. You know what the patient needs. Now comes the hard part: can you get the patient to want what he needs?

All of the theories of human persuasion have a single truth at their core. Simply put it says, “If you know enough about the person you are trying to persuade, you can find the key to opening their decision making process to accept your position.” In order to understand them, doctors can turn to a branch of demographics called “Psychographics.”

Before going further, it is wise to remind ourselves that individuals are always going to be much more complex than any shorthand we apply to understanding groups of people. But broad rules and trends CAN be made upon groups of people. Common experiences, backgrounds, demographics, and patterns of behavior (including consumption patterns) can allow us to make general policies regarding communications and persuasion, case presentation and fee consultations.

There are several “models” of psychographic groupings such as the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) who started with 9 or ESRI’s “Tapestry” system with 66 segments.

  • High Society
  • Solo Acts
  • Senior Styles
  • Upscale Avenues
  • Scholars & Patriots
  • Factories and Farms

The same segments are also divided into 11 Urbanization Groups(t) which are descriptive of the type of community in which they are found. These include:

  • Urban Outskirts
  • Suburban Periphery
  • Small Towns
  • Metro Cities
  • Urban Outskirts
  • Principle Urban Center

The 66 segments themselves reflect the values, demographics, consumer patterns, and “lifestyles” of the groups within them. These include groups such as:

  • Boomburbs
  • Laptops and Lattes
  • Prosperous Empty Nesters

Each group is distinct. So, if one has many Boomburbs in the practice (or more importantly, in the vicinity of the practice), what does that mean?

Boomburbs have a median age of 34 years. Most are between 35 and 44. They almost always have children present in the home (about 49% are married couples with children). More than 10% have a preschooler. They are racially White. The vast majority of these households have two income earners in the household and make about twice the national Median Household Income. They are strong believers in using pedodontists and orthodontists who are specialists rather than having those services offered by their general dentist. To them, the ideal dental practice is going to be close to home (and BEST if it is next to their local supermarket). College educated, they are much more included to prefer a newsletter and brochure about the practice than a post card or Val-Pack coupon. They like their case presentations written out and prioritized. Boomburbs are users of cosmetic dental services in all price ranges but they tend to be impatient to get things started once they have decided on treatment.

Laptops and Lattes are a little different. They live alone or with a roommate. The media age of the population is 38. Most of them are White with an above average representation of Asians. They are affluent with a median income of about $84,000. Most hold professional and management positions. Employment of both men and women in this group is high. They are well-educated with 37% having Bachelor’s degrees and 32% having graduate degrees. They love the city life and prefer to live in major metropolitan areas. Only 38% own a home. The are considered “high-end renters.” As the title would imply, they depend upon technology to get them through their day. If your “site” does not come up on their Google Search for a dental office with a link to your web page, you do not exist. They prefer making their appointment through the Internet as well. Recall is best done via Text Messaging, IM, or E-mail (which seems rather old fashioned to them). If they don’t own a Blackberry, they own an I-Phone. While the Boomburbs prefer cosmetic care to help them in their careers, the Laptops and Lattes prefer it to help their social lives. The prefer practices close to their work who offer extended hour schedules.

The Prosperous Empty Nests are another group entirely. Their median age is 46.1. A little more than half of their households are headed by someone 55 or older. They are out of their childrearing years and are headed for a prosperous retirement. They love travel and home improvements. Roughly 37% collect Social Security income and 58% collect on investments and dividends. Well educated, about 20% hold college degrees with 30% have attended college. The live in single-family detached homes. Generally they do not live in new neighborhoods. In need of endodontists, periodontics, and even some prosthodontics, they are beginning to feel their age. Their primary motivation for dental care is function although “recapturing youth” is a theme that resonates with them. Their ideal dental practice is one located near “big box” stores where they do daily shopping. This would include locations near Costco or Sam’s Club. High Impact post cards have a good effect on getting their attention although word-of-mouth is still their preferred method of finding a dentist.

We have described only three of the 66 groups in this system of population segmentation. Some doctors prefer to know what their current market looks like in order to promote their practices effectively. This type of research can help in deciding what services to offer, hours of operation, practice promotion activities, treatment planning, and staff selection.

Scott McDonald is the largest provider of dental marketing research to dental practices. For more information, email demographics@mckenziemgmt.com.

To order a demographic study of your practice, Go Here

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