Implication of Marketing Persona Identification Changes Since the 90s

Understanding our customers has always been important. But how we've come to understand them – via persona identification – has undergone a significant evolution over time. Let’s take a look at that transformation, what it means for you.

The 90s: Stereotypes and Basic Demographics

In the 90s, persona identification was in its infancy. Marketers relied heavily on basic demographic information like age, gender, and income. This approach, while straightforward, was akin to looking at a shadow and guessing the person’s build. It was a rudimentary method, leaning on broad stereotypes and assumptions. Businesses saw their audiences as monolithic groups, devoid of nuanced differences in behaviour, role, and regional influences.

Early 2000s: Psychographics Entered the Scene

As we moved into the new millennium, marketers began to realize that demographics alone weren't enough. We began to study people's attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological considerations. This was a pivotal moment, a step towards understanding the 'why' behind consumer behaviour. Yet, this method still relied heavily on surveys and focus groups, tools that could only scratch the surface of the consumer psyche.

The 2010s: Digital Footprints and Data Analytics

The 2010s marked a significant shift towards data. The explosion of digital, from social media interactions to online shopping behaviours, gave marketers a treasure trove of information. Persona identification became more sophisticated, moving beyond basics of who customers "were" to understanding their behaviours and motivations. This era was about connecting the dots across various digital assets, creating a clearer target persona.

The 2020s: AI and Machine Learning

Today, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are reshaping persona identification once again. These technologies enable the analysis of vast datasets, revealing patterns and trends that were previously just guesses. Now, persona identification is not just about who the customer is or what they do, but also about predicting what they will do next. It’s a deep dive into a sea of data, extracting not just patterns but also potential future behaviours.

Implications for You in Marketing and Sales

This evolution from simple demographics to complex, data-driven analyses has profound implications. Marketers and salespeople are becoming part data scientist, part psychologist. This change is at the core of why we pivoted from agency to consultancy in 2011. Understanding modern consumers requires a blend of technological savvy and empathy, an ability to read between the lines of big data and see the human story underneath. We're happy to guide you through that. Just reach out.

The Future: Ethical Considerations and Beyond

As we look to the future, the ethical implications of such deep persona analysis will take centre stage. The fine line between personalization and privacy protections need careful navigation. But, one thing is clear: the journey of persona identification over the years is a mirror to our technological and social evolution, a fascinating saga of how we understand those we seek to serve.

A 12 Questions Your Prospects are Asking, Whether They Know it or Not (or download the PDF) and tell me, what would you change about your approach, content, or messaging with this insight?

10 questions you should ask when defining your persona.

These questions delve deeper into the psyche, behavior, and preferences of the ideal customer, providing richer insights for creating more detailed and effective customer personas.

1. What Emotional Triggers Influence Your Ideal Customer's Purchasing Decisions?

Explore the emotional aspects that drive their buying behaviour, such as status, security, or personal fulfillment.

2. How Do They Measure Success in Their Personal or Professional Lives?

This helps in understanding their values and what they consider important, which can influence how they perceive products or services.

3. What Kind of Online Communities or Groups Do They Engage With?

Delve into their social interactions, including forums, social media groups, or professional networks they are part of.

4. Can You Describe a Time When Your Ideal Customer Was Extremely Satisfied with a Service/Product? What Made the Difference?

This question seeks to uncover specific attributes or experiences that deeply resonate with them.

5. What Are Their Long-Term Aspirations or Life Goals?

Going beyond immediate goals, this question aims to understand their broader life ambitions.

6. How Do They Prefer to Solve Problems or Overcome Challenges?

Understanding their problem-solving approach can inform how you position your products or services as solutions.

7. What Role Does Technology Play in Their Lives?

Probe into their comfort level with technology, dependence on digital tools, and openness to tech-driven solutions.

8. How Do They Stay Informed About Trends or Developments in Their Industry or Interests?

This can reveal their preferred sources of information and influencers they trust, which can be crucial for content strategy.

9. What Has Been Their Biggest Disappointment or Frustration with Products/Services in Your Category?

Instead of just focusing on positive aspects, understanding their negative experiences can offer insights into areas for improvement.

10. How Do They Define and Seek Quality in Products/Services?

Uncover their criteria for quality and excellence, which can help in aligning your offerings to these standards.

unlock deeper questions