Target Audience & Online Shopping Personae

Is it just me or are there 100 million ads for car/home/life insurance companies on TV (and other TV viewing channels like Hulu.) A quick non-comprehensive list:

All-State: Are You in Safe Hands, Mayhem Man
Famer’s: University of Farmers
Geico: The Cavemen, The Big-Eyed Money Stack, The Cliche Sayings, The Gecko
Nationwide: Greatest Spokesperson
Progressive: Flo & The Progressive Store, The Messenger
State Farm: Magic Jingle

Why?

It goes beyond just market saturation. These companies are establishing wide-ranging campaigns to target very specific niche markets. Don’t believe me? Let’s briefly look at All-State’s two well known campaigns: Are You in Safe Hands? and Mayhem Man.

(If you haven’t seen these ads, a quick Google/YouTube search will pull them up.)

Target Audience & Online Shopping Personae

Same message, different demographics. No doubt, the two campaigns targeting different people (and using different techniques to do so) make a huge difference to AllState’s revenues.

So, What’s Your Marketing Strategy?

Now, you might not have millions of dollars to spend on twelve different marketing campaigns, and that’s okay. But your approach should be to start small and go big. If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one, we’ve all heard that before, right? But it’s a hard guideline to stick to, because you probably think everyone and their moms should buy your product, buy from your website.

I’m speaking as a designer: Every piece of online creative that is created for your company (site designs, landing pages, e-mails, banner ads) should have a target demographic and appeal to at least one shopping persona.

Let me reiterate: every piece. It should be one of the first things determined when a project commences. Key questions to consider: Who is this for? Be specific! How will this appeal to them? Why will it be appealing? Answering these questions will: a.) serve as an agreed-upon reference when design/marketing/committee disputes come to a head, and b.) set a bar to which results can be measured.

Determining Your Audience

One of the key questions above is, who is this for? This question is equally simple and complex. Here are some starting guidelines for determining your demographic:

  • Gender
  • Age Group
  • Race or nationality
  • Geographical Location
  • Income
  • Education
  • Technical Ability

Once those overview questions are answered, think about the consumer on an individual level, and create another set of specific questions, tailoring them to your industry and product and potential demographic:

  • Do they have children? Are they married? Divorced?
  • Do they have excess income?
  • Do they have leisure time, how is it spent?
  • Are they nostalgic for an era past?
  • Are they work-a-holics? Unemployed?
  • Are they satisfied with their jobs?
  • Are the materialistic?
  • Have they used your product before?
  • Do their friends use your product?

Answering these questions will help shape the creative side of the campaign. For a designer, determining a mood, tone, aesthetic for a creative piece can be difficult, but the answers may be right in front of them, if the right questions are asked.

And very importantly: don’t answer these questions based on gut-instinct. Communicate with and track your costumers. You might think your product is for men, but you might be missing the fact that the actual shoppers and purchasers on your site are women. Make sure your answers line up with reality.

Lastly, Online Shopping Personae

Okay, you’ve determined a target audience, but there’s one more thing you should determine before beginning your creative process, and that has to do with shopping personae. I learned about shopping personae from a video on the original Mint.com design which I can no longer find online. Generally, the concept and personae seem to be credited to Bryan Eisenberg.

Target Audience & Online Shopping Personae

A demographic does not determine shopping persona.
You can have two 30-year-old single women, with a college degree and a career making the same amount of money, living in Miami, but the way they shop will be different. They both fit your demographic, they’re both interested in your product, but you’ll have to persuade them differently.

Me? Nine times out of 10, I’m a Methodical shopper. Price or availability are not my sole determining factors (Competitive). I rarely impulse buy (Spontaneous). I’m rarely swayed by emotional pleas (proceeds will go to this disease, poor area, etc.) (Humanistic). What about you? What about your customers?

It’s up to your marketing and creative teams to determine how many shopping personae and which ones to pursue, but it should be a conscious decision that is worked into the creative campaign, not an afterthought.

Determining a target audience for each marketing campaign and creating for the different types of shoppers, will boost your sales and enhance your brand.

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Heather Van De Mark

Heather Van De Mark

Heather joined Groove in October 2008 as Web Designer and grammar queen. On her off-hours, she earned her M.A. in Publications Design from the University of Baltimore. Previously, she received her B.A. in English from Cornell University. Working from all across America, Heather devotes her time to furiously designing to beat deadlines, scanning the latest typography sites and nosing through photography books.

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