Discovering customer personas

Discovering customer personas

By now most of us have heard or followed the story of Zoe Gabriel, the now famous Pinay teen based in Singapore who was bashed for viewing Charles and Keith as a luxury brand.

Fortunately, public sentiment in the end favored Zoe after she posted a now viral video response to the many netizens who commented that a Charles and Keith bag isn’t considered a luxury item.

The story touched the hearts of many of us; Zoe has given interviews left and right and done many courtesy calls. The message? Luxury is relative. It is defined differently by people based on their own lifestyles, resources, and preferences. The difference is critical and Zoe gracefully addressed it.


What does this teach brands?

At a time when toxicity and negativity prosper in many platforms, Zoe’s story is a breath of fresh air and certainly a welcome respite for brands who can relate to the message that Zoe conveyed. Compassion, positivity, kindness and respect are just some of the themes that brands took resonance with.

While the story can also be viewed as easy publicity for the brand involved, more than that is the discovery of a customer persona and how brands should continue to always be looking out for new ones. Having customer personas allows brands to serve and cater to markets with curated and personalized messaging that resonate very well and with relevance.


To be able to do this, companies and brands need to be deliberate in trying to uncover customer personas. Some activities that can be done include scanning the market and conducting surveys. In our consulting work, we help companies identify customer personas by interviewing existing customers through empathy interviews. This helps uncover customer wants, needs, fears, and challenges apart from their distinct personalities.

The information derived is used to map the customer journey across all touchpoints and interactions with the brand, thus coming up with the right messaging based on the personas identified. Similarly, the information can be used by brands to formulate a value proposition for that persona, e.g. the semblance of luxury can be used as part of the value proposition as we saw in Zoe’s case.


In the end, may Zoe’s story serve as an inspiration not only for consumers and individuals but also for businesses to be conscious and deliberate in discovering customer personas.

Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include food innovation, nation-building and sustainability. The author can be reached at