Market research has come a long way from its origins in basic demographics. In today’s digital age, understanding consumer behaviour to create a customer persona requires a more intricate and nuanced approach.
Technology has ushered in a new era of consumer insight through psychographics, social data, online behaviour analysis, and the creation of multi-dimensional personas. These impressive tools allow businesses to gain deeper insights into their customers, helping them create engaging and even more personalised marketing strategies.
The digital age has had a tremendous impact on consumer behaviour and has undermined the effectiveness of traditional demographic-based marketing strategies.
Not too long ago, marketers relied on the little information they could gather about their customers to sell products. This usually relied on basic demographic metrics gathered by analogue methods that included age, gender, income, occupation, marital status, family size, and nationality. This basic information was how businesses could begin to identify their audiences.
But we now know that a variety of characteristics and buyer preferences are embedded into these generalised segments, opening up new opportunities for marketers to learn more about their customers.
The advent of the internet and e-commerce has fundamentally altered the way consumers interact with products and services. The availability of information together with the ease of online shopping and the continuously rising number of choices have created a more discerning and selective modern consumer.
As markets continue to evolve and diversify, the emergence of niche audiences is becoming increasingly prevalent. These niches present unique opportunities for businesses to thrive by catering to specialised consumer needs. Understanding and targeting these niche markets has become a vital aspect of modern market research.
Data has helped us evolve from relying on demographics to psychographics to better understand consumer behaviour. Psychographics helps us to identify people by their psychological attributes such as their attitudes, aspirations, habits, and interests. This high level of consumer detail allows businesses to cater to individual needs rather than those assumed by basic demographic metrics.
By now we know that relying on simple demographics does not provide an accurate representation of a customer. The case of two people with the same demographic profile but entirely different buying habits is highlighted between Prince Charles and Ozzy Osborne. These two public figures share many common attributes on paper but display completely different consumer preferences. This means that different brands will cater to each persona according to their psychological attributes and not their basic demographic data. This is why the use of psychographics is vital when creating consumer personas/buying personas.
Social media platforms have become a treasure trove of data for market researchers. Users curate their online personas and project a specific image of themselves to the world which sheds light on their preferences and desires.
We can deeper understand user behaviour through metrics like likes, dislikes, and interactions with specific content. This data can be leveraged to learn more about consumers on a personal level. This also includes the types of pages and communities that users follow on social media platforms that can reveal crucial information about their lifestyle preferences.
But it goes beyond social media to how users generally operate online. The online customer journey is a rich source of data that can offer insights into consumer intentions and problem-solving processes. A customer’s browsing habits that show cookies, purchase history, and even abandoned cart data can provide valuable clues about their desires which brands can leverage.
While efforts are being made to limit the gathering of this data, it helps to create more personalised online shopping experiences which modern consumers now demand. Gathering this information can be used to build more accurate consumer profiles to provide more targeted strategies.
Creating multi-dimensional customer personas involves key steps such as data gathering, rigorous analysis, and effective visualisation. Here’s a basic outline:
Set out to collect as much information about customer segments as possible. Apart from basic demographics, aim to gather online data from social media and browsing habits. The more information you have, the more defined your persona will be.
Get a basic understanding of the differences in user characteristics by analysing the data. Separate the data into categories and define sub-sections for each (Prince Charles example). Here, try to really understand user behaviour and fill in the gaps of data to what makes the most sense in terms of psychology.
Identify the character of a persona and create a story about them. Fill it with as much emotion and psychology as you can to really flesh out who these people really are. Identify their motivations, desires, fears, and pain points. Think of it as writing a character for a novel, the more you can visualise this person the easier it will be to cater to their specific needs.
It’s important to understand that the process doesn’t end with the initial development of these profiles. Instead, it should be an ongoing practice.
Customers evolve over time, and so should their personas. After all, understanding your customers is a dynamic journey of growth and adaptation. This continuous updating and iteration is important in ensuring that businesses stay in tune with their evolving customer base, constantly adapting their strategies to meet changing needs and preferences.
As the world of market research continues to evolve, staying ahead of the curve requires a deep understanding of consumer desires and motivations. By moving beyond basic demographics and harnessing the power of technology, businesses can thrive in an era where personalisation and relevance are critical to delivering amazing buyer journeys.
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