Persona: users, consumers, customers, clients and humans!

In any order you see it, the common element in the categories of users, consumers, clients and customers are the stories we hear from each of these people and these are of value. Each one has a context and each serves a different purpose and has a story. Woven together for value- the stories serve a market.

The contexts of these users bring together the larger value in today’s world of marketing and micro moments. Increasingly, it is the context that connects the short moments of demand in the economy. Connecting the service or the product to the consumer in a short span of time is the great benefit of “Personas”.

Personas are not real people but fictional figures who have the context and the pain points, in other words, the “value” of the economy woven into their stories. These are fictional characters that are created out of the ethnographic research- out of interviews, surveys and analytics. They knit together landscapes of desire and demand. They bring value with their stories of demand entrenched in the drama of their lives.

As media and technology moved from a community or mass ownership to the household and then to the personal context with the mobile phone, so has the production of value moved in a similar manner in the economy. Images in the economy grab the attention of not just a large market segment but the niche user who is a part of a smaller segment making a smaller purchase. The market needs to understand this and it is made possible through qualitative research.

Personas are one of the outcomes of research that address the need of this market segment and the creation of micro demand. Ignoring the stories of users only inflates the number game in the market with a skewed and an inaccurate demand. The qualitative research that brings this in addresses critical elements of value and a demographic. It ties together the nature of the demand to the logic of the demand and enhances the stories and takes them to another level.

Personas are a great tool.

Published by Hema Malini

I am a trained sociologist and an archival researcher. I am the principal investigator for an archival research project on the Brahma Kshatriyas of Hyderabad and also founder of I also go by my other name Malini. I am a translator of notes that remain in the margins to bring the user of technologies into sharper focus. I use the term community researcher, immersive researcher to talk about the work I do. In the past, as a Director and user experience lead at Code for Princeton I worked with non-profits, community groups, users, and subject matter experts to identify areas of need. I translated this into conversations with brigade members, developers, potential users, and other stakeholders. The applied ethnography and social research skills got me to meet with a diverse set of people across the broad middle class spectrum in Urban India. Living and working in New Jersey for the past several years has given me a breadth and width of understanding and engaging with people adding critical diversity to my bracket of "users" and experience all rolled in one.

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