Ask a Marketer: What Is a Buyer Persona?

What is a buyer persona?

We use our expertise to answer this question.

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of a target customer that embodies specific characteristics and behaviors. These defining qualities are based on market research and data about a brand’s existing customer base. Once a persona’s motivations and challenges are defined, the brand can use this valuable tool to tailor product/service development and marketing efforts to better resonate with their audience. 

Confusion between buyer personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs) is common, but understanding their distinctions (and how they rely on each other) can greatly elevate sales and marketing strategies. An ICP is a generalized outline of a brand’s most valuable customer, while a buyer persona describes an individual consumer’s traits and motivations in more detail. When developing buyer personas, companies use their ICP as the guideline to determine which personas need to be created.

When creating a buyer persona, brands should look at the following:

  1. Demographics, like age, gender, location, and education
  2. Behaviors, including shopping habits, brand preferences, and how they prefer to spend their time  
  3. Psychographics, like values and beliefs, lifestyle, and personality traits 
  4. Needs and pain points, such as challenges, goals, and their specific budget

Let’s craft a sample buyer persona for an apparel brand to illustrate the concept:

  1. Demographics: Single 35-year-old male living in an urban area, who has a Bachelor’s degree
  2. Behavior: Prefers online shopping, is very fashion-conscious, and actively engages on social media (Instagram, TikTok)
  3. Psychographics: Enjoys traveling, values sustainability and eco-friendly brands, and has an active lifestyle
  4. Needs and pain points: Requires stylish clothing that is versatile enough to endure extreme weather conditions such as rain, snow, and sleet; needs an online store that offers free returns from anywhere; is comfortable with spending $50-$200 on each clothing item
Buyer persona: Traveler Todd. 35 years old, single, very active lifestyle, lives in seattle. brands: apple. sites: instagram, tiktok, ogio. news: google, podcasts, CNN. devices: iPhone

Like many businesses, you likely offer not just one, but several products/services that are not just for one specific consumer—which means you’ll also have several buyer personas. Having a small “deck” of personas will usually cover most of the customers you need to strategize for.

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