Personas (Customer Archetypes)

Learning Goal: Create a Customer Persona (Customer Archetype).

Customer Persona Example

Personas are are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way. Personas are an integral part of building block #1 in business model generation. Personas are a specific outline of one customer within the customer segment to be targeted throughout the next 8 steps in the business model. Personas literally drive every step in the business model.

What's the definition of a customer persona?

Customer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, why they make buying decisions, where they buy and when buyers decide to buy.

In determining the number of personas needed, we must look at Customer Segments in the business model generation. Customer groups represent separate segments if:
  • their needs require and justify a distinct offer 
  • They are reached through different Distribution Channels 
  • They require different types of relationships 
  • They have substantially different profitabilities 
  • They are willing to pay for different aspects of the offer

Customer Persona/Archetype

A Deeper Understanding
The purpose of researching and modeling customer personas is to help us gain a deeper understanding of buyers and their buying behaviors. This helpful understanding aimed at informing decisions on marketing and sales strategies. Learning about the buyers of today involves learning about the new language of buyers. A deeper understanding also requires we develop a new robust vocabulary about buyers – expressed in everyday terms. 

Completing the Persona
1. Demographics - Segmenting based on gender, age, income, housing type, and education level among others.
  • Gender 
  • Age Range 
  • Life Stage 
  • Marital Status 
  • Children 
  • Household Income 
  • Occupation 
  • Education 
  • Hobbies
2. Geographics - Segmenting based on where is the person located and buying?
  • Where are they located? 
  • Urbanicity? 
    • Urban 
    • Suburban 
    • Rural 
Let's take a look at Nike and how they use Geography to track the effectiveness of the brand. 

Geographic Opportunities The Company announced plans to grow the NIKE Brand in all six of its geographies including driving mid single-digit growth through broader expansion in its developed geographies (North America, Western Europe, and Japan), targeting an additional $3.0-3.5 billion of annual revenue by the end of fiscal 2015. Additionally, NIKE plans to invest aggressively in its developing market geographies (Greater China, Central & Eastern Europe, and Emerging Markets) targeting low double-digit growth and an additional $3.0-3.5 billion of annual revenue by the end of fiscal 2015.

3. Behavioral - Based on the needs of the customer, activities they participate in and categories they define themselves by.

This one is a bit harder to understand. The best way to explain it is through Nike. Nike segments and serves athletes is part of its edge. Through an approach it calls "category offense," Nike divides the world into sporting endeavors as well as geographies, the theory being that, say, gold lovers share more traits than do residents of neighboring countries. According to the company, Nike sales have risen 70% from 2008-2015 during the shift to this strategy. 

Here is what it looks like:
  • Action Sports – comprised of NIKE 6.0 and NIKE SB, is the fastest growing category within the Nike Brand. The Company anticipates doubling its current estimated $390 million business by 2015.**
  • Athletic Training – started more than 20 years ago with the advent of NIKE cross training. This business, estimated at $1.4 billion, continues to redefine performance with key innovations like NIKE Pro base layer apparel and the Trainer1 shoe.**
  • Basketball – led by the strength of the Jordan Brand and excellent opportunities in the United States and China, NIKE’s basketball business is currently at approximately $1.7 billion in revenue.**
  • Football – with NIKE Brand Football revenue of approximately $1.7 billion, the Company is launching its largest-ever presence at a World Cup including new footwear, national team kits, and NIKE Football+.**
  • Running – with approximately $2.1 billion in revenue, NIKE’s original category continues to be the source for key innovations including Flywire, Lunar Cushioning, and Nike+ enabled footwear. is the world’s largest running club with close to 3 million registered members and Lunar Glide continues to expand the category’s growth opportunities.**
  • Sportswear – the Company’s largest category at about $4.9 billion continues leveraging new performance ideas from the six sports categories as well as franchise products like the Air Force 1 (which sells 15 million pairs a year 25 years after its debut).**
  • Women’s Training – with nearly $740 million in sales and the number one position in women’s training footwear in the U.S. and the top five European markets, a new generation of NIKE Free footwear – designed to strengthen the body and improve fitness by activating the core – in concert with the Company’s strongest ever apparel offering continues to drive growth in this category.**
4. Psychographics - Segmenting based upon multivariate analyses of consumer attitudes, value, behaviors, emotions, perceptions, beliefs, and interests. This is easily the hardest section of a persona. To dive into the psychographics of a customer segment we use an empathy map, providing us with a visual for the nuances of the individual.

The empathy map is a collaborative tool teams can use to gain a deeper insight into their customers. As you can see it focuses holistically on the what makes up the psychographics of a particular customer segment through 6 unique questions:
  • What does the customer segment "Think and Feel?" 
  • What does the customer segment "See?" 
  • What does the customer segment "Say?" 
  • What does the customer segment "Hear?" 
  • What causes the customer segment "Pain?" 
  • What causes the customer segment "Gain?"

Empathy Map
Example of Meaningful Personas

Additional Reading 

Student Activity
Create a customer persona for one of your targeted audiences for the donut project.
Jonathan Horn,
Feb 25, 2016, 9:56 AM
Jonathan Horn,
Feb 25, 2016, 9:56 AM
Jonathan Horn,
Oct 5, 2017, 5:41 AM