Collecting Rare Personas

It’s encouraging that more marketers are considering the use of personas for the purpose of personalization. The traditional segmentation technique has its limitations, as it tends to pin the target into one segment at a time. However, one person may possess multiple dominant characteristics.

For that reason alone, it is much more prudent to develop multiple personas and line them up around the target individual. It may be based on simple business rules, but statistical techniques are strongly recommended to avoid any gaps or missing values. The following is a simple example of how unusual personas would work, and there are retailers who use more than 100 personas for personalized campaigns.

Here are a few personas marketers can gather through predictive modeling that they may not have considered:

Roger RacecarThe obvious use for this is to sell NASCAR-related merchandise and tickets, but it can be used for political campaigns. When someone wants to target “NASCAR Dads,” data scientists can literally create a list based on persona scores like this.
Maria MovietimeThis may answer the “why” part of telecom package offers. Yes, they may be selling the same triple-play packages, but why should the consumer take a more expensive package when it comes to high-speed Internet? Other examples would be “Avid Gamer,” “Frequent International Calls Over Voice over IP,” etc. These personas can be used in conjunction with each other to create personalized messages to offer various types of telecom service packages.
Homemade HannahPeople shop for groceries for different reasons, and personas like this can be used to resonate better with the target customers. The opposite of this would be something like “On-the-go” folks, who would shop for pre-packaged meals over fresh ingredients. Combined with other personas, such as “Organic Shopper” or “Low-Sugar/Low-Fat Diet,” marketers can create personalized messages and coupons easily.
Cell Phone CedericThis would be a little different from targeting just “Cutting-Edge” consumers or “Early Adopters.” No landline (or “Mobile Phone-Only”) folks represent a new generation of people who are completely mobile phone-dependent and relatively more active on social media. Target them with smartphone-centric ads.

Identitysafe IanSecurity-conscious people show different shopping tendencies in seemingly unrelated categories. Personas like this can be used for obvious security-related products, such as home protection, identity protection and various types of insurance products. But this persona can also be applicable to gauge their risk tolerance when it comes to investment products.

Tina ThrillseekerMarketers can use this persona as a proxy for family vacation and other family-related activities. When they build models targeting such an audience, the result can be used not only for a variety of travel-related services, but also for family-oriented merchandise.


Stephen H. Yu is a world-class database marketer. He has a proven track record in comprehensive strategic planning and tactical execution, effectively bridging the gap between the marketing and technology world with a balanced view obtained from more than 30 years of experience in best practices of database marketing. Currently, Yu is president and chief consultant at Willow Data Strategy. Previously, he was the head of analytics and insights at eClerx, and VP, Data Strategy & Analytics at Infogroup. Prior to that, Yu was the founding CTO of I-Behavior Inc., which pioneered the use of SKU-level behavioral data. “As a long-time data player with plenty of battle experiences, I would like to share my thoughts and knowledge that I obtained from being a bridge person between the marketing world and the technology world. In the end, data and analytics are just tools for decision-makers; let’s think about what we should be (or shouldn’t be) doing with them first. And the tools must be wielded properly to meet the goals, so let me share some useful tricks in database design, data refinement process and analytics.” Reach him at stephen.yu@willowdatastrategy.com.


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