Creating a Character to Represent your Target Market

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9th May 2017

Creating a Character to Represent your Target Market

One of my favourite methods of defining a target market is to create a character.


Ford Motor Company does this really well. Before they design the car, they create the driver. In a previous life, as an event manager, I was exposed to a number of these characters. Two of them still stand out for me – May and Jean.


May was the character representing the Fiesta driver – an attractive 28-year old, living in the city, focused on friends, fun, clubbing, parties and more concerned about the design and function of her phone than that of her car. When Fiesta made it in to the ‘Car of the Year’ finals, Ford took one of our students and got her to present the Fiesta to the journalist panel judging the awards. Instead of a whole lot of corporate ‘talking head’, she stood up and said, “Hi, I’m May” and went on to tell them all about herself. How cool was that?


The Fiesta dashboard layout at the time was very similar to that of a Nokia cell phone. A brilliant illustration of a company connecting with their target market!


My other favourite Ford character represented the Figo driver. We ran the launch event and had a lot of fun with Jean, a 25-year-old city girl, living with others (family or flat mates), either finishing her studies or just starting out in her career.


We launched the car in Johannesburg and had a lunch break at 44 Stanley in Milpark – a popular weekday hangout for students from UJ (University of Johannesburg), Wits University and AVDA Film School. The media briefing was addressed by one of our students – in similar style to the Car of the Year presentation. There were fun activities with the car – a mini gymkhana-type set-up – all run by ‘Mays’ and the route schedule, to get the media from one place to the next, was designed like a student diary.


And before you think this approach is a little frivalous, there’s a lot more to the description than, “Hi, I’m May and I’m a 25-year-old, newly qualified city girl than recently moved out of home”. Aside from the demographics, Ford digs really deep into their:

  • Psychographics
    • Including characteristics like how important friends and family are to her, how she likes to keep up with latest trends, have her own style, while still being quite brand-conscious. She is an experience embracer, living with credit pressures but actively seeking better balance between work, family and friends
  • Motivations and aspirations
    • These include the importance of friendship and family, freedom, escape, balance, independence, achievement, progress and recognition
  • Preferences
    • Such as shopping, clubbing, music, coffee/café, hitting the gym, eating out, movies, travel and holidays. How much TV she watches, what magazines she reads and how connected she is – which is always (on her mobile of course)!
  • Styling wants
    • Which are sleek, aerodynamic, modern, fresh, distinctive, sporty and comfortable
  • Vehicle requirements – which Ford calls their ‘Autographics’
    • These include the fact that she is planning a first (serious) purchase, looking for a new B-segment hatch and wanting to make a statement of her progress within her social circle. She wants a car that is stylish, gives her freedom and privacy, helps her avoid public transport and ends her reliability on friends for a social life. Her reasons for buying this model include exterior styling, price, feature availability, size, comfort and fuel economy.


You’d have to agree, it’s a pretty effective way of bringing your target market to life. From a social media perspective, this makes it so easy to work out what to say to her, how to say it etc (all the stuff addressed in our previous blog:


It’s quite possible – in fact highly likely – that you to have more than one target audience. In the case of the Figo, there definitely are others – like the newly retired couple that is down-sizing home, car and lifestyle. There’s also the busienss fleet buyer who wants a fairly basic pool or delivery car and finally the car rental buyer. Each has unique characteristics and will require a different approach to sales, the purchase process and ongoing communication. It’s not necessary to build a character for each target audience but it really is fun and effective!