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Drapers Digital Forum: Customer personas key to cut through data, says Topman director

Defining core customer personas is key to sorting through the huge amounts of digital data and breaking down the online barriers between retailers and their shoppers, Topman’s Gareth Rees-John has said.

Speaking at today’s Drapers Digital Forum in London, Topman’s global digital director warned “data is detaching us from our customers” and retailers “can get lost with data”.

He explained: “When you run a shop you know who your best customers are when they come in. The problem is in digital there’s a huge barrier, it’s difficult trying to get in touch with customers.

“We should break down those barriers that have acronyms that don’t mean anything to people outside the industry and take us a step away from customers. Customer personas help us to cut through this.

He added: “Customer personas are the one thing that makes the difference between us as digital retailers and bricks and mortar retailers, and puts us back in touch with our customers.”

Topman currently has seven personas to differentiate its shoppers: Not bothered, Understated, Mum & Son, Aspiring Fashionista, Extreme Fashionista, Female Fashion Forward and Elusive.

He said the next step for Topman would be to prioritise the website to better target these personas.

“I would love to be able to, and will be able to in the next six months, to re-order the homepage for each persona,” he said.

This week Topman launched a new digital campaign called ‘We Know What You Want’ which seeks to find out what motivates the shoppers the retailer knows less well. It involves an 8-question quiz with four socially-engaging questions to get them to take part, and another four focused on how they dress. After taking the quiz, the shoppers are directed to a personalised page, which if they like they are prompted to enter their email address so Topman can continue to target them.

Rees-John added the core data needed from online shoppers is whether they are male or female, and what the ‘Trojan Horse’ is that attracts them to Topman, which could be music or socially-engaging content rather than specific fashion product.

Once customer personas have been created, Topman brought in shoppers to test the site to see how they used it. “In-house sessions to ratify customer personas is absolute gold dust,” he said.

Readers' comments (2)

  • When customers find out you are stereotyping them, you might not like the outcome.

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  • Getting to know the digital shopper better should be applauded. I believe the above will deliver incremental improvements.

    However, in my opinion, there are much bigger ticket conversion opportunities. Especially for 'bricks and clicks' retailers.

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