Developing Customer Avatars

One approach to developing a better picture of who your customers are involves creating customer avatars. Simply stated, a customer avatar is an embodiment of your typical customer. It’s an approach that can help you capture everything you need to know about a prospect or customer, such as:
  • Basic demographic information, like age, gender, income, marital status, geography, and more
  • More complex demographic factors that might impact buying, such as their living situation or what type of career they work in
  • Their buying style, such as Detailed Researcher or Impulse Buyer
  • The underlying emotional or mental problem that they’re trying to solve, in relation to your products or services
  • Benefits and brands that they value and that factor heavily into the buying process (i.e. who is the competition and how do they feel about it? What do they value when they’re evaluating your product space?)
  • The language that they use to describe the issues at hand
  • What types of proof and endorsements they trust, from celebrity spokespeople to in-depth consumer reviews
  • The publications, shows, and social media platforms where they spend time
And so on. At the end of the process, marketers end up with a picture that looks something like the following:
Anne is a stay at home mother of three living in the Pacific Northwest. Her biggest concern with purchasing laundry products are budget and health & safety. She also expects the product to be effective, but she considers that an obvious non-negotiable. She researches brands by reading mom blogs, environmental publications, and by talking to her friends. She’s not above an impulse buy, however, if she finds a great deal on a new product from a company she trusts or has heard about before.
The term “customer avatar” is borrowed from a well-established history of customer segmentation and personas in market research. Typically, a market research firm gathers a large amount of data about your audience and searches for patterns. The patterns that emerge are grouped into similar customers, and each of those segments is given a name that relates to their status or behavior. These descriptive terms could range from “The Home Craft Beer Brewer” to “The Reluctant Millennial Entrepreneur.” Another approach assigns a name to each segment, so you end up with “Carol, The Home Craft Beer Brewer” and “Tyson, the Reluctant Millennial Entrepreneur.”
Customer avatars allow you to create a baseline persona of who you’re trying to appeal to. Depending on the complexities of your business or your audience, you may have several avatars that correspond to different customer segments. The process of building your avatars can give you a systematic way to glean insights about your customers, while the avatars themselves can provide a focal point for your marketing team’s efforts.
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