First, let me set the record straight…
This project was an academic study for a real client. I’d like to say up front that based on the information I gathered through the course of this study, I ethically would not have taken this project. It may sound naive, but I chose my path in User Experience Design because I feel if your product fits the users needs and you design something so well that they really want to use it, they will come to you. I would never voluntarily back an industry or company that purposely sells a product that they know a customer can’t afford in the hope they can repossess it and sell again. Ok, time to get off my high horse.
The sequence of events leading to these persona’s began with a series of question and answer sessions with the client. Through this, it became evident that the company was heavily focused on their dated, demographic-based research. While some of it held true and helped us refine our initial recruiting for interviews, they fell short in helping the salespeople understand the goals, motivations and frustrations of the people coming to their lots.
Our team conducted a series of six (6) interviews with people we felt, more generally, fit into the basic profile of a customer. We tried not to make narrow assumptions, so we surveyed a short-list of potential participants. Each of the researchers conducted at least one interview themselves, taking notes and compiling data points.
2. Reducing and Organizing the Data
Since the interviewers were spread across several cities, each interviewer coded and conducted a single-case analysis of their interview(s). This stage prepared their data for a cross-case analysis session to take place once all interviews been completed and coded.
3. Identifying Behavioral Variables
Patterns began to emerge from our analysis. These these patterns or ‘affinities’ in behaviors between individuals were then used as the basis of the creation of a continuum, or scale, to which each interviewee was ‘judged’. For example, some interviewees stated they did extensive research prior to going to the car lot while others said they did none, so our continuum* was presented as a 1-5 likert scale where 1 is ‘I did not research my purchase’ to 5 ‘I extensively researched my decision’. Through just six (6) interviews, we were able to find strong affinity across several distinct behaviors. Enough to create two (2) distinct persona’s.
*The continuum’s were recreated in Google Forms to allow all members of the team to rate their participants. This allowed for our team to collaborate remotely.
The reality is, people coming to these lots don’t have many options. Their credit is bad and they need transportation. At the same time, they want to feel a sense of dignity. Across the board, they spoke of their wanting for respect, fairness and a level of transparency. Where the two persona’s split was in their motivation for buying a car. One was very utilitarian: she needs a car so she can work, take care of her family and be independent. The other was more generally motivated by an overt need for acceptance and a sense of equality. He wants a car that brings him status. He also wants respect from the seller during and after the experience. He expects the dealer to treat him with the same respect they did when they were trying to sell him the car.