Persona Concept - What are Persona?

Another thing which is identified in interviews and which is required for many other steps is the persona.

What are persona? What is the Persona Concept?
A persona is a stereotype for a group of people with specifically distinctive characteristics and specific behaviour.
Personas are created using features which are identified in interviews, for example, or in other observations made by customers. As many personas as necessary and as few as possible are developed to cover the appropriate behaviours.

The persona concept helps:

  • To get a better understanding of the different types of market participants.
  • To summarize the different characteristics of a group of people and to reflect them in an exemplary person (persona).
  • To simplify the communication considerably, because with the persona I also transport all characteristics without having to express them.

Both types of personas which are important from the persona concept to us are the buyer persona, the user persona and the buyer-user persona.

Buyer Persona:

By buyer persona we mean all those personas who are involved in the decision on the purchase. We must therefore present the benefits and added values for the respective buyer persona. In the chapter Buyer Persona Analysis, we will go into this in more detail.

User Persona:

The user persona is the persona for whom we are solving the problem and who will later use our product or our service.

You can find out more about the types of persona here:

Definition in the Persona Concept:
Solve the problems for the user persona. Explain the added value for the buyer persona.

Buyer-User Persona:

But there are also situations in which the buyer persona and user persona are one and the same person. If the persona Claudia goes to buy herself some shoes, for example, she makes the decision about the purchase. As Claudia is also the one who will be using the shoes, she is therefore also the user persona.
Claudia decides on the purchase and also uses the product, she is therefore the buyer persona as well as the user persona. As such, we call her a Buyer-User Persona.

persona concept, buyer user persona

What are typical personas in the Business to Business (B2B) environment?

In the B2B environment it is usually quite clear with the persona, because they go out of the house every morning to work and slip into their role in the company, for example as the CEO, CTO, in Sales, in Controlling, in Engineering etc. These roles are comparable and present in most companies and their tasks are also similar in most businesses.

A user persona in the company is any employee who uses the product.

A buyer persona in a company is every person who is a co-decision maker in the purchasing process. These can be technical departments such as IT, but also economic decision-makers such as department heads or management. This is dependent on the financial volume or on the scope of the decision for the company.

What are typical personas in the Business to Consumer (B2C) environment

In the B2C environment, the roles are generally clearly assigned which leads to numerous buyer-user personas as seen in the example above. In families, on the other hand, there are often clear divisions between parents and children. All the members of the family are usually user personas of the usual things in the household, like the TV for instance. Whereas the buyer persona of a TV is rather limited to the parents unless the children are those who earn the money and decide the budget.

But it is important that the user persona is included in the decision-making process because if they cannot use the product, it becomes a poor purchase.

Practical example:
The microwave in our house broke. This appliance sits on a small table in our kitchen which has a relatively smooth wood veneer surface.
After a short search I, the father of the family, bought a new microwave and simply exchanged it for the old one. Shortly afterwards, I heard from the kitchen: “The new microwave doesn’t work. We can’t use it because we can’t get it open.”
Now, what was going on? The kids were pulling on the new microwave’s door handle and the appliance almost slipped from the table because the surface underneath it was too smooth.
Our old microwave didn’t have a handle to pull, it opened at the push of a button. As such, the microwave did not move because it stood against the wall and the door just sprang open.
The new appliance was packed back up again and replaced by one in the design of the old microwave. Had I as the buyer persona better observed the user personas of the kids and involved them in the decision in good time, we would have been spared this poor purchase.

Read the continuation: Interviews with the right persona

The article Persona concept - What are persona? is an excerpt from our textbook Strategic Product Management, which is available for free download.

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About the author

Frank Lemser is a trainer and founder of proProduktmanagement. He has been a market-driven evangelist since the beginning of the 2000s and since then has also been methodically involved with product management. He has developed the Open Product Management Workflow™, numerous tools for product managers, written and published books free of charge and was involved in the development of the Product Management Dashboard for JIRA. His personal goal is to solve many everyday and work problems for product managers, to professionalize and simplify the work for product managers.

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