My Process of Creating Buyer Personas from Online Surveys

A CLIENT PROJECT

  • Company

    My own

  • Client

    Pumpkin Squash

  • Responsibilites

    UX design/User research

  • Software

    SurveyPlanet.com

  • Project timeframe

    3 days

Pumpkin Squash is a client website for the online sale and delivery of local organic food in England.

We needed to create buyer personas to better understand who would be visiting the website.

What are buyer personas and why are they important?

  • Buyer personas are fictional people that your business creates to better understand and imagine who they’re selling to.
  • They are essential in getting to know your customers and what drives their buying behaviour.
  • By getting to know your customers and who you are talking to you can make website content that is more relevant to its users leading to longer site visits and increased conversions.

Client Problem

‘When creating website content I’m not sure who I’m talking to, I’m making assumptions about my customers needs and problems that might be incorrect and lead to customers bouncing and going elsewhere.’

It’s crucial to know who your customer is. If you don’t understand who your customer is or worse it’s “everybody” then you have very little chance of your business succeeding.

The Solution

  • Create buyer personas based upon real data collected from an online survey.
  • Understand your customers so you can better cater for their needs and problems.

I follow a 5 step process in persona identification:

  1. Conduct market research to gain background context into problem.  
  2. Generate hypotheses and form proto-personas.
  3. Conduct user survey.
  4. Test hypothesis and modify personas validated by research.
  5. Test product with real people.

From market research and competitor analysis I observed commonalities in consumer behaviour and created 4 proto-personas with the aim of revealing what drives consumer behaviour.

Personas are meant to combine the qualities of several people into one so it’s advised not to create anymore than 4 as they can become too generalised.

To keep personas simple and actionable I look at:

  • Background.
  • Challenges/Pains.
  • Goals.
  • How to respond to challenges and pains.

First time buyer

Background

  • 35 year old woman
  • Health conscious
  • Comparison shopper

Challenges/Pains

  • Price sensitive.
  • Lack of knowledge about organic.
  • New company doesn’t trust.
  • Worries about the future of the planet.

Goals

  • Healthier life
  • Purchase organic online for first time
  • Find company sharing same values
  • Good customer service 

How to respond to their needs

  • Inform/Educate.
  • Social Proof/reviews
  • Show how different/better you are to competitors
  • Promotion 10% off first order

Savvy customer

Background

  • Female 45+

Challenges/Pains

  • Finding local organic suppliers difficult
  • Not fan of supermarket food
  • Information difficult to understand
  • Doesn’t like big companies exploiting people

Goals

  • Find trusted brands
  • Find company she can trust
  • Active online/debats benefits 
  • Buy food regularly

How to respond to their needs

  • Communicate companies organic virtues
  • Promote convenience/weekly deliveries

Health-conscious parent

Background

  • Professional mother with 2 kids
  • Busy, hectic lifestyle

Challenges/Pains

  • Worried about families exposure to chemicals in foods
  • Doesn’t trust information she reads

Goals

  • Find food with less toxins
  • Healthy family
  • Will pay premium for sustainable food
  • Doing right thing to help planet/protect children
  • Buy online good for busy lifestyle with kids and job

How to respond to their needs

  • Promote convenience and health benefits
  • Company that can be trusted to use chemical free local food
  • Reliability

Local customers

Background

  • Retired married couple

Challenges/Pains

  • Find hard to support local business
  • End up in supermarket because of convenience

Goals

  • Value local produce.
  • Farmers markets

How to respond to their needs

  • Special attention/produce from local farmers

Now to the ‘Food Buyer’ survey itself…

  • The survey was conducted with 30+ respondents using SurveyPlanet.
  • I asked 10 simple and actionable questions relating to respondent backgrounds, challenges/pains and goals.
  • Survey duration was only 3 minutes.

From the survey I looked to learn:

  1. Who are the users/common characteristics.
  2. Do results support our hypotheses on different personas?
  3. What problems are they trying to solve for themselves?
  4. What are biggest sources of friction, doubts or hesitations that stop them achieving their goals.
  5. How do they prefer to buy?
  6. Do they comparison shop? How often? If they shop around stress your unique benefits more. Be visibly different/better than competitors.
  7. Uncover insights about users’ emotional states.
  8. Survey should help achieve business goals.

My findings:

  • 82% of respondents are between ages of 35 and 54.
  • 50% split between male and female.
  • 67% of respondents are married families with children.
  • More frequently than not respondents buy organic food.
  • 60% shop in supermarkets, 22.9% in local independent stores, 8% online and at markets.
  • Despite shopping largely in supermarkets only 34% thought food sold by supermarkets was in fact organic. 44% surveyed were not sure.
  • Respondents think it is important to support local businesses.
  • Price and not being sure about benefits is preventing people from buying more.
  • In order to buy more respondents thought it was important to have more scientific evidence of benefits of organic food.
Q1 – Q3 Example Charts

What are the main behavioural patterns from the survey that we can use in our personas?

  • Respondents mostly families with children.
  • Respondents health conscious and buy organic more frequently than not.
  • Distrust organic food from supermarkets.
  • Important to support local business.
  • Lack of availability of organic food.
  • Understand benefits of eating organic but seek scientific evidence to confirm knowledge.

The data that I collected largely validates and supports my initial findings.

However, I felt that I could condense my findings into a single persona whom I called: Heather the ‘Health conscious parent’.

With more respondents I’d be able to identify further trends and create an additional persona but for now I’ll use just one.

Heather the ‘Health Conscious Parent’

Background

  • Professional mother with 2 kids.
  • 40 years of age.
  • Busy, hectic lifestyle.

Challenges/Pains

  • Worried about future of environment and family’s exposure to chemicals in foods.
  • Doesn’t trust food from supermarkets.
  • Not sure that the information she reads is correct and needs scientific proof to buy more.

Goals

  • Will pay premium for food that is sustainable* with less toxins.
  • A healthy family.
  • Doing the right thing to help planet/protect children.
  • Buy online is good for hectic lifestyle with kids and job.
  • Prefers to buy locally.
  • Needs a product that reflects her values.
  • Bargain not important as long as she gets a food supplier that she trusts.

How to respond to their needs

  • Promote convenience and scientific health benefits.
  • Promote benefits of company that can be trusted to use chemical free local food.
  • Reliability.

*A sustainable food is a type of food that provides healthy food to people while also providing sustainable impacts on both environmental, economic and social systems that surround food.

What will I do with this data?

The ‘Heather Buyer Persona‘ can now be further validated with 1 on 1 interviews and focus groups.

For now, we can use this information to:

  • Speak the language of the user for content and headings creation.
  • Formulate a value proposition for user problems that are solved.
  • Increase conversions by having more relevant offers/promotions.

I can help your business to improve the effectiveness of its website and increase conversions.