Personas in retail

Here at Insight we appreciate the importance of understanding your service users. It can often be a difficult process for you to remember how your services can affect different people depending on their personality. We observe these various user personalities and create persona cards that can be used to test customer scenarios.


A great example of personas being used as a tool within the workplace comes from a first hand experience by our own Matthew. Back in the day when a younger Matthew worked in retail, personas were a great tool used by a British high street fashion retailer.

The problem that needed solving was an inconsistency with staff engagement and customers. Some staff would almost be fearful of suggesting appropriate stock when approaching customers, whilst others communicated confidently but advised inappropriate solutions. Missed sale opportunities happened too often, but money issues aside, it was the lack of tactile service that needed addressing.

The company adopted 6 personas, 3 male and 3 female, to help staff understand the personalities of customers. Models dressed in relevant clothing were used to portray each persona enabling them to feel as realistic as possible. Posters displayed within each store acted as a visual reminder. Names were also given to really drive home the notion that these personas were real people and this allowed for staff to easily communicate about them.


Let’s discuss the male personas further…

Trendy Toby
Toby loves to shop. His week resolves around what he’ll be wearing Friday night. Toby buys whatever you tell him to. If it’s on trend, he needs it! Only worn it once? Never mind, that’s old now.

Fashion Flynn
Flynn is the shopper who keeps his eye on the trends but does things his way! He takes time to make sure he stands out from the crowd. Flynn doesn’t follow trends… he sets them!

Classic Chris
This shopper is your typical bloke; he hates retail therapy. Chris wants classic, clean-cut clothing available in traditional colours. He expects quality clothing that will last. He wants to look good, but not stand out.


Beyond the initial understanding of the fact that there were varied shopper types, the personas did help staff to engage with customers. With further training on clothing styles, staff members were able to identify whether the customers they were dealing with were more a Toby, a Flynn or a Chris.

When identifying an energetic shopper as a potential Toby, staff members could prepare to discuss the newest stock should they be approached. At the fitting room, a conversation starter of “If you’re trying this on, you might like the new t-shirt we’ve had in to complete the look!” would be ideal.

If staff encountered a Flynn, bestsellers and popular stock would take a back seat, in favour of offering different outfit combinations. Dealing with Flynn customers allowed staff to openly talk about styling that wouldn’t be appreciated by a Toby or Chris. “Have you tried layering with an extra tee?”

Quiet, disengaged shoppers were categorised as being a Chris. Staff knew to tailor their service tone to suit Chris’ personality – straightforward and fuss-free. Suggesting sophisticated clothing that would work within any wardrobe was a focus for the sales advisors. “These chinos could be worn with any colour shoe.”

The personas had instigated not only a higher level of appropriate service, but made sales advisors more aware of their role to advise. Staff members were more capable and management were confident in everyone’s abilities.
Happy team.


Photo Credit: laverrue via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: jef safi \ ‘pictosophizing via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Joel Bedford via Compfight cc

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