Do you ever feel like you have a target on your back? Even if you’re not aware of it, you’re likely a target for dozens of consumer products. Major companies spend a lot of time and energy thinking about who will buy their products. Age, gender, income, and lifestyle are just some of the factors that companies consider when they target a market demographic and create a product for it.
To get tuned into the mindset of consumers they aim to influence, companies sometimes develop a “brand persona” for a product – a personality created to embody the characteristics of the brand’s target customer. A persona essentially becomes the imaginary target consumer for the product – it brings a brand to life.
Creating a persona is a process that starts by asking questions: What are the target market’s preferences? What attributes of the product will appeal to him/her? How will they use the product? Where do they shop? Fleshing out the persona helps confirm that a product will resonate with its final audience. Understanding the target customer also ensures that all elements associated with the product will effectively work together to sell the brand: design, advertising, marketing. That’s where I come in — my job as a copywriter is to make sure that the words I use and the tone I set will resonate with the target audience. I write to the persona.
Personas are unique to their particular brands, and it’s interesting to think about how they take shape for popular products on the market. I’ve sketched out my ideas about who the intended target might be for three well-established consumer products below:
The persona for this brand wears her name on the front door. You know Ann Taylor, right? She’s sharp, classy, well-dressed. Ann Taylor retail stores sell higher-end clothes to young working women who want to look stylish in the office and chic when they head out for cocktails after five. The clothes are beautifully designed, constructed of quality fabrics and perfectly accessorized; they make you stop and say, “I want that look”. Step into an Ann Taylor store and you’ll notice that attractive work separates are front and center, followed closely by cocktail attire. That’s because Ann Taylor isn’t your “slouch around on Saturday” store; it’s your “polished and pulled together” shop. The Ann Taylor brand keeps Ann top of mind to help cultivate that smartly-dressed image that defines their clothes.
Do you think it’s ironic that the “The King of Beers” is really the ultimate beer for America’s “every man?” I would wager that the Budweiser persona is Joe, your “Average Joe”, that is — the guy who wants to grab a beer with his buddies after work, enjoy a frosty brew at the football game, or have a cold one at home after mowing the lawn on a hot day. He’s not a beer snob looking to try a new import or micro-brew; he wants the all-American, great-tasting beer he knows he can count on. The Budweiser folks seem to have Average Joe firmly in sight when they create their highly-successful advertising, with TV commercials tailored to men: sports-themed, humorous, and often self-deprecating toward the male species. The joke that beer is more important than just about anything else in the world works, because the theme is universal and Average Joe is in on it. Budweiser knows its target so completely, it can have fun joking around with him.
Tide® Laundry Detergent
While laundry detergent is a basic staple that a lot of people don’t think about much, that’s not the case for the Tide persona — Tide users take their laundry very seriously, I’m guessing. I like to think of the Tide persona as Tammy, but feel free to substitute the name of any busy mom you know who is trying to balance work, home and community. Tammy takes pride in caring for her family, and making sure their clothes look good is high on her list. The Tide brand targets Tammy by positioning itself as a cleaning powerhouse that can solve any dirty laundry problem: dingy whites, tough stains, stubborn odors. Because she has active kids who play multiple sports, Tammy depends on Tide to deliver clean, fresh-smelling clothes every time. Value is more important to Tammy than getting a bargain; she wants only the best for her family. Although Tide is not the cheapest brand, Tammy’s learned from experience that less-expensive brands don’t always perform as well. Tammy is brand loyal, so once she finds a brand that fits her needs, she sticks with it – she doesn’t even have to think about which laundry detergent to buy at the store. Tammy is also a coupon-clipper when she has time, so Tide capitalizes on that by regularly offering coupons in the Sunday paper. Tide sets its sights on Tammy by offering a high-quality, dependable product at a good value. I feel like I know a lot about this imaginary Tammy, because she sounds a lot like me!
So the next time you’re shopping, take a minute to think about who the brand persona is for the product you’re about to take off the rack or put in your cart – it just might be you!