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 thought...read 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?