Do retailers need to update customer persona development?
Chico’s over the last year has developed two buyer personas: Joy, its primary customer, and Catherine, a secondary customer, that help drive its advertising, product selection, customer service efforts and e-mail strategy.
The company used qualitative and quantitative research to come up with the semi-fictional representations of the apparel chain’s two typical shoppers.
“Not only can I picture these two women and what their lives are like, but so can everyone in our marketing department,” said Shelagh Stoneham, Chico’s SVP of marketing, at the Email Insider Summit, according to MediaPost.
She added, “We know these women well enough that we can tell stories about them and share them with everyone in the company. We know them as well as we know some of our friends.”
A persona, according to the Buyer Persona Institute, “tells you what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company resolves.”
Some marketers, however, believe personas have failed to evolve for modern retail and its extensive shopper touchpoints.
In a column on Business 2 Community, Juli Durante, marketing team lead at SmartBug Media, writes that some personas are overly quantitative and lack “actual stories or personality and, thus, don’t help inform any kind of marketing or sales content.” Others are overly qualitative and “miss the basic demographics, so you don’t realize that you’re actually trying to sell a sofa to an apartment-dwelling Millennial, not a family-oriented Gen X-er.”
In an interview last year with Forbes, Scott Levine, SVP strategy at Kern, an Omnicom agency, said traditional personas are stagnant, while buyers’ mindsets continually change through the shopper journey. The personas fail to capture the elements of awareness, consideration, inquiry, purchase and loyalty. “The journey has become more complicated and yet, this hasn’t been taken into consideration when thinking about consumer personas,” he said.
Some marketers find qualitative research, including one-on-one interviews, less valuable in developing personas when expansive data is available through Google analytics, social media, user-generated online reviews and other areas. Artificial intelligence also promises to help quickly analyze online behavior and reams of customer data to build more relevant personas.
- Storytelling Through Email: How Chico’s Uses Brand Personas – MediaPost
- The Next Generation Of Personas – Forbes
- What is a Buyer Persona – Buyer Persona Institute
- The Science of Building Better Buyer Personas – HubSpot
- How Artificial Intelligence Enhances Personalized Communication – Business 2 Community
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should retailers adjust their methods for developing buyer personas? Will emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence replace the traditional persona-building process?